POLLUTION LOCATOR|Environmental Inequality: Assessing the Evidence

Underlying claims of environmental discrimination is the belief that pollution may play an important role in the pattern of disparate health status among the poor and people of color in the United States. Indeed, the socioeconomic stratification of American society is mirrored by disparities in several health indicators; the poor are generally less healthy than the rich, those without a high school diploma are less healthy than the college educated, laborers are more likely to die of heart disease than are members of managerial or professional classes, and people of color suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Moreover, Black workers are more likely to be employed in hazardous occupations resulting in a serious illness or injury than White workers.

The environmental justice movement has fueled a surge of academic and scientific inquiry into the question of environmental inequality in the United States. Research on race and class differences in environmental burdens varies widely, ranging from anecdotal and descriptive studies, to rigorous statistical modeling that quantifies the extent to which race and/or class explain disparities in hazards among diverse communities. Environmental health and exposure indicators in these studies include measurements of proximity to emissions sources (e.g., hazardous waste sites or industrial manufacturers), exposure to specific toxic substances (e.g., pesticides, lead, and outdoor hazardous air pollutants), differences in regulatory enforcement (e.g., Superfund clean-ups), and the distribution of environmental benefits due to regulatory implementation (e.g., clean air, water and access to recreational areas).

Although the studies do not provide a unanimous verdict on the question of environmental discrimination, most of the evidence indicates that there are disparities by race and class in the distribution of environmental hazards, whether defined by facility location, emissions, ambient concentrations of air pollution, or environmental enforcement and clean-up activities.

OVERVIEWS OF US EVIDENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITIES:

Goldman, B. 1993. Not Just Prosperity: Achieving Sustainability with Environmental Justice. National Wildlife Federation, Washington, DC.

Szasz, A and M Meuser. 1997. Environmental Inequalities: Literature Review and Proposals for New Directions in Research and Theory. Current Sociology 45(3):99-120.

SELECTED STUDIES ON HEALTH DISPARITIES:

Ecob, R, and G Davey Smith. 1999. Income and Health: What is the Nature of the Relationship? Social Science and Medicine 48:693-705.

Haan, M, G Kaplan, and T Camacho. 1987. Poverty and Health: Prospective Evidence From the Alameda County Study. American Journal of Epidemiology 125:989-998.

Hahn, R, E Eaker, N Barker, S Teutsch, W Sosniak, and N Krieger. 1996. Poverty and Death in the United States. International Journal of Health Services 26 (4):673-690.

Kubzansky, LD, LF Berkman, TA Glass, and TE Seeman. 1998. Is Educational Attainment Associated with Shared Determinants of Health in the Elderly? Findings from the MacArthur Studies of Successful Aging. Psychosomatic Medicine 60 (5):578-585

Syme, S, and L Berkman. 1976. Social Class, Susceptibility and Sickness. American Journal of Epidemiology 104 (1):1-8.

Hemingway, H, A Nicholson, M Stafford, R Roberts, and M Marmot. 1997. The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Health Functioning as Assessed by the SF-36 Questionnaire: The Whitehall II Study. American Journal of Public Health 87 (9):1484-1490.

Kawachi, I, and MG Marmot. 1998. Commentary: What Can We Learn from Studies of Occupational Class and Cardiovascular Disease? American Journal of Epidemiology 148 (2):160-163.

Krieger, N, DL Rowley, AA Herman, B Avery, and MT Phillips. 1993. Racism, Sexism, and Social Class: Implications for Studies of Health, Disease, and Well-Being. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 9 (6):82-122.

USDHHS. 1990. Age-adjusted Death Rates for Selected Causes of Death, According to Sex and Race: United States, Selected Years, 1950-87. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Robinson, JC. 1984. Racial Inequality and the Probability of Occupational-Related Injury or Illness. Milbank Quarterly 62 (4):567-590.

Robinson, JC. 1987. Trends in Racial Inequality and Exposure to Work-Related Hazards. Milbank Quarterly 65 (2):404-419.

STUDIES ON PROXIMITY TO HAZARDOUS FACILITIES:

Anderton, DL, AB Anderson, JM Oakes, and MR Fraser. 1994. Environmental Equity: The Demographics of Dumping. Demography 31 (2):229-248

Been, Vicki. 1993. What's Fairness Got to Do With It? Environmental Justice and the Siting of Locally Undesirable Land Uses. Cornell Law Review 78:1001-1085.

Been, Vicki. 1994a. Unpopular Neighbors: Are Dumps and Landfills Sited Equitably? Resources Spring, 1994:16-19.

Been, Vicki. 1994b. Locally Undesirable Land Uses in Minority Neighborhoods: Disproportionate Siting or Market Dynamics? The Yale Law Journal 103:1383.

Boerner, C, and T Lambert. 1995. Environmental Justice in the City of St. Louis: The Economics of Siting Industrial and Waste Facilities. St. Louis, Missouri: Center for the Study of American Business.

Bowen, WM, MJ Salling, KE Haynes, and EJ Cyran. 1995. Toward environmental justice: Spatial equity in Ohio and Cleveland. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 85 (4):641-663.

Bullard, Robert. 1983. Solid Waste Sites and the Black Community. Sociological Inquiry 53:273-288.

Bullard, RD. 1996. Environmental justice: It's More Than Waste Facility Siting. Social Science Quarterly 77 (3):493-499.

Burke, LM. 1993. Race and Environmental Equity: A Geographic Analysis in Los Angeles. Geo-Info Systems October:44-50.

Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ. 1987. Toxic Wastes and Race in the U.S.: A National Report on the Racial and Socio-economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites: UCC.

Hersh, R. 1995. Race and Industrial Hazards: An Historical Geography of the Pittsburgh Region, 1900-1990. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.

Mohai, P, and B Bryant. 1992. Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence. In Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse, edited by B. Bryant and P. Mohai. Boulder, CO: Westview

Pastor, M, JL Sadd, and J Hipp. 2000. Which Came First? Toxic Facilities, Minority Move-In, and Environmental Justice. Journal of Urban Affairs (In Press):29 pp.

Perlin SA, RW Setzer, J Creason and K Sexton. 1995. Distribution of Industrial Air Emissions by Income and Race in the United States: An Approach Using the Toxic Release Inventory. Environmental Science and Technology 29(1):69-80.

Pollock, PH, and ME Vittas. 1995. Who Bears the Burden of Environmental Pollution? Race, Ethnicity, and Environmental Equity in Florida. Social Science Quarterly 76 (2):294-310.

Pulido, L, S Sidawi, and RO Vos. 1996. An Archeology of Environmental Racism in Los Angeles. Urban Geography 17 (5):419-439.

Sadd, JL, M Pastor, T Boer, and LD Snyder. 1999. 'Every Breath You Take...': The Demographics of Toxic Air Releases in Southern California. Economic Development Quarterly 13 (2):107-123.

SELECTED ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STUDIES ON EXPOSURE DISPARITIES:

Brajer V and JV Hall. 1992. Recent Evidence on the Distribution of Air Pollution Effects. Contemporary Policy Issues 10:63-71.

Kraft, ME, and D Scheberle. 1995. Environmental Justice and the Allocation of Risk - The Case of Lead and Public Health. Policy Studies Journal 23 (1):113-122.

Moses, M, ES Johnson, WK Anger, VW Burse, and el al. 1993. Environmental Equity and Pesticide Exposure. Toxicology and Industrial Health 9 (5):913-959.

Morello-Frosch, RA, M Pastor, and JL Sadd. 2000. Environmental Justice and Southern California's 'Riskscape': The Distribution of Air Toxics Exposures and Health Risks Among Diverse Communities. Urban Affairs Review. Forthcoming, March 2001.

SELECTED ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE STUDIES ON REGULATORY ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES:

Hird, J. 1993. Environmental Policy and Equity: The Case of Superfund. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 12 (2):323-343.

Lavelle, M, and M Coyle. 1992. Unequal Protection. National Law Journal September 21, 1992:S2.

Lazarus, RJ. 1993. Pursuing 'Environmental Justice': The Distributional Effects of Environmental Protection. Northwestern University Law Review 87 (3):787-845.

Wernette, DR, and LA Nieves. 1991. Minorities and Air Quality Non-Attainment Areas: A Preliminary Geo-Demographic Analysis. Paper read at Socioeconomic Energy and Research Conference, at Baltimore, MD.