This series explores environmental and health issues in South Los Angeles, produced in partnership with the California Endowment.

South Los Angeles is a community rich with culture and unique identity, with a strong history of progressive activism. From the bustling Central Avenue jazz scene, through the turbulent years surrounding the Watts Riots, to the golden age of music and poetry in Leimert Park, the area has seen its fair share of time in the spotlight, for better or worse.

But along with that rich cultural and political history, there is an ignored story. "Mainly, it's the story of the staggering environmental health and justice problems facing the community," says Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA), an organization that advocates for policies and practices that improve public health, eliminate environmental and nuclear threats, and address health inequalities. Recently, the California EPA identified South L.A. as one of the most polluted areas in the state. Data released in the 2013 Los Angeles Health Atlas revealed that a South L.A. resident will live five years less than one living other parts of Los Angeles. In addition, South L.A. residents are more likely to die from coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke than residents living in other parts of Los Angeles.

So what does this mean for the people who live there? It means wondering if that oil pump jack down the street is causing our frequent bloody noses. It means that our supposed safest and healthiest places -- our homes -- are often too close to polluting freeways. It means that our older apartment buildings, the only ones that we can afford, are riddled with mold, leaky pipes and pest infestations. For the residents of South L.A., it means that the places where we live, work, play, study, and worship do not support our health.

As part of the California Endowment's South Los Angeles Building Healthy Communities initiative, KCET Departures has partnered with PSR-LA to explore, in a series of articles, the environmental and health concerns that affect South Los Angeles and its residents.

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