Skip to main content

Effects of the Toxic Donut

Top Five Chemicals Released to Air Near Altgeld Gardens 19.7 thousand pounds

54%
Methanol
19%
Zinc compounds
11%
Manganese compounds
10%
Ammonia
4%
Nitric acid
2%
Other

Top Five Chemicals Released Water Near Altgeld Gardens 103 pounds

55%
Manganese compounds
23%
Zinc compounds
7%
Lead compounds
7%
Chromium compounds
5%
Copper compounds
3%
Other

Chicago Hardship Index Community Area Economic Hardship Index

84.2
Riverdale/​Altgeld
70.6
South Lawndale
70.5
Englewood
9.9
Lakeview
9.0
Loop
8.6
Near North Side

Poverty Rate Percent below poverty level by community

61%
Riverdale/​Altgeld Gardens
18%
Chicago
11%
Illinois

Per Capita Income income in dollars

$8,201
Altgeld Gardens
$37,103
Chicago
$36,038
Illinois
Local Polluter name ‘n’ shame

The Toxic Donut

On the southeast side of Chicago, surrounded on all sides by landfills, industrial facilities and polluted waterways, are communities like Altgeld Gardens. The late Hazel Johnson, the Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement, labelled this area the "toxic donut," a name which gained widespread notoriety and shed light on the connection between industrial pollution and negative health outcomes in frontline communities like Altgeld.

Learn More

We offers tours of the Lake Calumet Industrial Area and the surrounding landfills, industrial facilities, waterways. These toxic sites are close to residential communities and have considerable effects of those in our nieghborhood.

Report a Polluter

Bad smell, smoggy air, brown water? Report the issue and we'll get in touch to connect you with resources.

Toxic Tours

In-Person Tours

People for Community Recovery offers toxic tours of the Lake Calumet Industrial Area, located on the southeast side of Chicago. The Toxic Tours explore the surrounding landfills, industrial facilities, waterways, and the proximity of residential communities to this area. 



The late Hazel Johnson, the Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement labelled this area the "toxic doughnut," a name which gained widespread notoriety and shed light on the connection between industrial pollution and negative health outcomes in minority communities.

For additional information, email Cheryl Johnson at cheryl@pcrchi.org

Virtual Tours

As part of the Goethe Institute's ongoing CHEMICAL (RE)ACTIONS: On Environmental Struggles in Chicago, and in collaboration with PCR, local artists Joshi Radin Flores, Alberto Ortega Trejo, and Rosario Zavala have created a virtual tour of the Lake Calumet Industrial Area. The Tactical Gardens takes viewers to all of the same locations they would see on an in-person tour, while also providing necessary context and insights from Cheryl herself.

Take the Virtual Tour

Take a Tour

To schedule a tour, please call PCR's office. PCR charges a nominal fee for management time and services to conduct these tours.

Environmental Justice in Riverdale

PCR works in Altgeld Gardens to address climate and environmental impacts here. We also promote healthy and affordable housing, and fair economic development. We provide resources and referrals to neighbors for help with utility bills, water quality, home repairs, tenants rights and more.

PCR's organizing has stopped more landfills from polluting Chicago communities, helped remove asbestos in public housing, prevented hundreds of affordable housing units in Chicago from being demolished, and passed the first federal legislation to address environmental justice and carve our resources for EJ communities all across the U.S.

We've worked on the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which increases renewable energy in Illinois and benefits low-income communities through job training programs, access to solar and energy efficiency programs. We've been making sure the Chicago Housing Authority pursues solar development projects that benefit its residents. We've trained community ambassadors to educate and enroll residents in health studies, with the goal of better understanding environmental factors on public health. And we're taking on the global climate crisis, demanding frontline communities have a seat at the table tackling resiliency efforts and blunting the most urgent effects of climate change.