Sacrifice Zones

Sacrifice zones are areas of land that have been negatively damaged by environmental or economic impacts. Typically, these areas are located in low-income neighborhoods or are economically less important than other lands (Lerner Sacrifice Zones ). 


Thousands of people, mostly low income or minority communities, often live in heavily polluted industrial zones (Lerner Sacrifice Zones ). After years of being polluted by harmful chemicals these people stand up and these areas then become sacrifice zones (Lerner Sacrifice Zones ). These areas are polluted because they are less important and less valuable than other lands (Natalie Deep Water Horizon). Some of the most famous examples of sacrifice zones are Love Canal, Three Mile Island, and the Gulf of Mexico. For example, the vast majority of the Gulf of Mexico near the mouth of the Mississippi is a dead zone or a sacrifice zone. Before the spill, it was a dead zone because the enormous amounts of fertilizers and other harmful chemicals that have been dumped into the Gulf from the river. These people and lands are taken advantage of because they are low income communities that do not have the power to stand up and fight for justice. These lands and communities are forever changed just for other people to make money. 


Image result for gulf of mexico dead zone

Sacrifice zone off coast of Gulf of Mexico due to pesticides and harmful chemicals dumped into Gulf by Mississippi river.  Source:

Related Case Studies:


Environmental Racism

Turning Towards


Lerner, Steve. Sacrifice Zones: the Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the United States.MIT Press, 2012.

Natalie. “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Effects Indigenous Tribes in Grand Bayou, LA.” Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Effects Indigenous Tribes in Grand Bayou, LA, 2 Nov. 2017,