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Separate and Unequal: Residential Segregation and Estimated Cancer Risks Associated with Ambient Air Toxics in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

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      Abstract

      This study examines links between racial residential segregation and estimated ambient air toxics exposures and their associated cancer risks using modeled concentration estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Air Toxics Assessment. We combined pollutant concentration estimates with potencies to calculate cancer risks by census tract for 309 metropolitan areas in the United States. This information was combined with socioeconomic status (SES) measures from the 1990 Census. Estimated cancer risks associated with ambient air toxics were highest in tracts located in metropolitan areas that were highly segregated. Disparities between racial/ethnic groups were also wider in more segregated metropolitan areas. Multivariate modeling showed that, after controlling for tract-level SES measures, increasing segregation amplified the cancer risks associated with ambient air toxics for all racial groups combined [highly segregated areas: relative cancer risk (RCR) = 1.04; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01–107; extremely segregated areas: RCR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.28–1.36]. This segregation effect was strongest for Hispanics (highly segregated areas: RCR = 1.09; 95% CI, 1.01–1.17; extremely segregated areas: RCR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.61–1.88) and weaker among whites (highly segregated areas: RCR = 1.04; 95% CI, 1.01–1.08; extremely segregated areas: RCR = 1.28; 95% CI, 1.24–1.33), African Americans (highly segregated areas: RCR = 1.09; 95% CI, 0.98–1.21; extremely segregated areas: RCR = 1.38; 95% CI, 1.24–1.53), and Asians (highly segregated areas: RCR = 1.10; 95% CI, 0.97–1.24; extremely segregated areas: RCR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.16–1.51). Results suggest that disparities associated with ambient air toxics are affected by segregation and that these exposures may have health significance for populations across racial lines.

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      Most cited references 66

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      Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California

       Laura Pulido (2000)
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        The Dimensions of Residential Segregation

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          Neighborhood characteristics associated with the location of food stores and food service places

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ] Department of Community Health, School of Medicine, and
            [2 ] Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
            Author notes
            Address correspondence to R. Morello-Frosch, Brown University, Center for Environmental Studies and Department of Community Health, School of Medicine, 135 Angell St., Box 1943, Providence, RI 02912-1943 USA. Telephone: (401) 863-9429. Fax: (401) 863-3503. E-mail: rmf@brown.edu

            The authors declare they have no competing financial interests.

            Journal
            Environ Health Perspect
            Environmental Health Perspectives
            National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
            0091-6765
            March 2006
            19 October 2005
            : 114
            : 3
            : 386-393
            1392233
            10.1289/ehp.8500
            ehp0114-000386
            16507462
            This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose, provided this notice is preserved along with the article's original DOI.
            Categories
            Research

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