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Air Pollution, TRIs, Health , Chemical Exposure , Environmental Health Hazards

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Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M Jr, Porras C, Sadd J. Environmental justice and regional inequality in southern California: implications for future research. Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Apr;110 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):149-54. doi: 10.1289/ehp.02110s2149. PMID: 11929723; PMCID: PMC1241158.


Environmental justice offers researchers new insights into the juncture of social inequality and public health and provides a framework for policy discussions on the impact of discrimination on the environmental health of diverse communities in the United States. Yet, causally linking the presence of potentially hazardous facilities or environmental pollution with adverse health effects is difficult, particularly in situations in which diverse populations are exposed to complex chemical mixtures. A community-academic research collaborative in southern California sought to address some of these methodological challenges by conducting environmental justice research that makes use of recent advances in air emissions inventories and air exposure modeling data. Results from several of our studies indicate that communities of color bear a disproportionate burden in the location of treatment, storage, and disposal facilities and Toxic Release Inventory facilities. Longitudinal analysis further suggests that facility siting in communities of color, not market-based "minority move-in," accounts for these disparities. The collaborative also investigated the health risk implications of outdoor air toxics exposures from mobile and stationary sources and found that race plays an explanatory role in predicting cancer risk distributions among populations in the region, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic indicators. Although it is unclear whether study results from southern California can be meaningfully generalized to other regions in the United States, they do have implications for approaching future research in the realm of environmental justice. The authors propose a political economy and social inequality framework to guide future research that could better elucidate the origins of environmental inequality and reasons for its persistence.


Rachel Morello-Frosch, Manuel Pastor, Jr, Carlos Porras, and James Sadd

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