Photo by: Pixabay user Free-Photos.

Low-income communities often are exposed to more pollution than other communities, and bear greater health burdens from that pollution.

 

The Background: Researchers at Harvard Chan School have done several studies on pollutant exposure in low-income areas. In one, the researchers modeled exposure to nitrous oxide (NO2), and ultrafine particulates, both of which are byproducts of burning fossil fuels, across the greater Boston area. They then compared those exposure maps to the health of people living in those areas.

A second study interviewed participants from 20 low-income housing developments in the Boston area, and examined apartments for “household exposures,” like mold, combustion by-products from cooking, secondhand smoke, chemicals, pests, and inadequate ventilation. Researchers looked at the connection between these contaminants and the health of residents.

Results—Toxic Emissions: Researchers found that PM2.5 and NO2 concentrations were highest for urban non-Hispanic black populations compared to urban white populations. Urban Hispanic populations fared even worse: compared to non-Hispanic whites, they experienced more than 20% higher exposures. By looking at these inequalities over time, the study raises the possibility that social and demographic changes could affect decisions about land use, environmental policy enforcement, and other factors that influence emissions.

Results—Low-Income Housing: Researchers found that people who reported having health problems were more likely to live with household exposures. The study also found that indoor environmental conditions in multifamily housing tend to accumulate across apartments, and can be associated with poor health building-wide.

The Upshot:. Due to economic and social circumstances, lower-income and certain minority groups often live in areas with greater pollution: near major highways and industrial sites, for example, or even in apartments with poor ventilation and climate control.

Resources:

Viewpoint: Encouraging health professionals’ civic engagement to address health impact of climate crisis

Health professionals who want to address the effects of the climate crisis on the health of people and the planet should become more civically engaged.

Read Now

TRECH Study to analyze potential health benefits of transportation policies aimed at curbing climate change

Exploring how different transportation policies could influence health through better air quality and increases in physical activity.

Read Now

Moving Environmental Justice Indoors

The main drivers of indoor air quality in low income housing.

Read Now

Environmental Conditions in Low-Income Urban Housing

Important findings related to the health of occupants in low income housing.

Read Now

Green Public Housing and Health

Green public housing may reduce health risks from environmental pollutants.

Read Now

NPLI Visits Israel with Seventh Delegation

News The National Preparedness Leadership Initiative brought its seventh delegation of officials from the United States to visit their peers in Israel in January 2013. Each delegation is designed to address issues related to mass casualty events and population resilience. It is hosted and organized by the Emergency and Disaster Management Division of the Israel…

Read Now

NPLI Responds to Sandy

News Whenever there is a large scale event in the United States, NPLI students and alumni are involved in the response -- often in leadership positions.  Super storm Sandy is no exception. NPLI faculty are in touch with our network and getting ongoing reports on leadership challenges and triumphs from the front lines. NPLI faculty…

Read Now

Alben (Cohort V) Assumes Command of MA State Police

News Timothy Alben is the latest NPLI alumni to receive a significant promotion. He was recently named commander of the Massachusetts State Police. He was sworn in by Governor Deval Patrick on July 13. We wish him well in his new role. See all NPLI news here.

Read Now

Putting Public Health into Policy

3 Questions for Dr. Richard Pan, MPH ’98 [caption id="attachment_1066" align="alignright" width="300"] Dr. Richard Pan, MPH ’98[/caption] As a California State Senator and Chair of both the Senate Committee on Health and the Senate Budget Committee on Health and Human Services, Dr. Richard Pan, MPH ’98, guides California state policy on pandemic preparedness and COVID-19…

Read Now

Rich Americans spew more carbon pollution at home than poor

Rich Americans produce nearly 25% more heat-trapping gases than poorer people at home, according to a new study.

Read Now

Can environmental mitigation save us from mounting crises?

The pandemic, climate change, and racial injustice don’t just weave together, they feed on each other.

Read Now

The latest summer forecast calls for deadly heat waves

Every summer is getting hotter and every heatwave puts people's lives at risk.

Read Now

Urban heat islands: Climate change disproportionately affects African Americans

Dr. Aaron Bernstein explains how African Americans are disproportionately affected by the extreme heat that comes with climate change.

Read Now

Soot rule thrusts EPA into spotlight on race

A new proposal from the EPA, which would change how to consider the costs and benefits of climate policies, would disproportionately harm communities of color.

Read Now

How climate change is affecting our children's health

Why climate changes health and why children's voices need to be heard when discussing climate solutions.

Read Now

Obama’s EPA Chief: ‘Sometimes you need to listen to the kids’

Our Director Gina McCarthy spoke about inequality, corruption, and the young Americans who've had enough with climate inaction.

Read Now

Are we at a climate change turning point? Obama’s EPA Chief thinks so

Our Director Gina McCarthy on climate inequality, progress with climate action, and what's still left to be done.

Read Now

Former EPA Head Gina McCarthy on the pressing need for climate action

Our Director Gina McCarthy on why she is optimistic about climate action after a successful Climate Week.

Read Now

Dr. Aaron Bernstein

Aaron Bernstein MD, MPH

Aaron examines the human health effects of global environmental changes with the aim of promoting a deeper understanding of these subjects among students, educators, policy makers, and the public.

View Profile

Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

A leading advocate for smart, successful strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years.

View Profile