204976 Particulate matter air pollution and environmental justice: A community study

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 12:48 PM

Jane K. Dixon, PhD , School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT
John P. Dixon, PhD , New Haven Environmental Justice Network, Woodbridge, CT
Mark Mitchell, MD, MPH , Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Hartford, CT
PURPOSE / QUESTIONS: Because of the problem with particulate matter air pollution (PM) in New Haven, Connecticut, we designed research based on the Integrative Model for Environmental Health Research – to explore varying PM levels, who is affected, what they think of it, and what they do. METHOD: Using a handheld particle counter, we collected data on PM from 13 specific locations clustered within three dissimilar sections of the city. Analysis was based on medians of 9 readings per location. Additionally, we interviewed 222 individuals from five neighborhoods in the same three sections. RESULTS: For the smallest particle size measured (.3 -.5 micrometer diameter), results indicated wide variation between locations, with more than two-fold difference between location with lowest number of particles and that with the highest. Likewise, there were differences between neighborhoods on perception of air pollution in neighborhood (Χ2=62.7, p<.001), report of household member with “breathing difficulties such as asthma” (Χ2=29.0, p<.001), and staying inside on bad air days (Χ2=33.5, p<.001). The location with the highest number of small particles was in the neighborhood with the highest proportion of black (66.7%) and Hispanic (35.6%) respondents, and also the highest rate of ”breathing difficulties such as asthma” (68.9%). CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate an environmental justice issue. The community organization which was a partner in this study is planning action steps, including reenergized peer asthma training and improved availability of air conditioning for residents of the most affected neighborhood, as well as continuing focus on pollution reduction.

Learning Objectives:
Explain the procedure for determining variation in particulate matter air pollution within a community. Discuss the relationship of minority status (black or Hispanic), environmental health hazard (particulate matter), and health disparity (breathing difficulty). Design a plan for investigating environmental justice and health disparity in collaboration with a community group in own community.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Air Pollutants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I teach research methods to doctoral students in nursing and have developed a program of research and writing on environmental health issues, especially as these relate to health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.