Fox Business Network anchor Charles Payne ripped Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for blaming an asthma epidemic in the South Bronx on emission pollution.

Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks during a heated exchange with Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).

Duffy cried foul on the idea that all Americans should retrofit or rebuild their homes to reduce emissions, noting the immense cost for an average family. 

"You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist?" Ocasio-Cortez shot back at Duffy. "Tell that to kids in the South Bronx [with the] highest rates of childhood asthma in the country."

Payne, who grew up in nearby Harlem, said Ocasio-Cortez was being "disingenuous" with her response.


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"I'm someone who lived in Harlem when when it was a lot worse. Every other building was abandoned," he said.

Payne said that abnormally high rates of smoking in the home, combined with impoverished families' other struggles added to the asthma problem.

He said that social workers routinely encounter apartments in Harlem and the South Bronx "loaded with dust" and that the residents' budgets do not allow for regular doctor visits or prescription medications.

Payne said that in 2013, Columbia University found that the area had high rates of cockroach and mouse allergens.

He said the asthma epidemic has "zero to do with [carbon dioxide] emissions or this climate change debate."

Payne added that Ocasio-Cortez also found "another way to bring race into the conversation."


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