205481 Residential segregation: A key connector between race and environmental health disparities

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jennifer Davis , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Colubmia, SC
Sacoby Wilson, MS, PhD , Institute for Families in Society, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Muhammad Salaam , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Rahnuma Hassan , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Universtity of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Our study seeks to determine the role that residential segregation plays in driving the distribution of ecologic salutogens (i.e., factors that promote health) and pathogens (i.e., factors that impede health) in neighborhoods across the nation, ultimately driving health disparities in diverse populations. Currently, there is considerable debate concerning specific mechanisms culminating in a “health disparity”. Limited research purports that residential segregation is a critical starting point to gain better insight into the origins and persistence of environmental health disparities and may be part of the causal pathway leading to health disparities in exposure risks. In this study we aim to determine the variability in the distribution of salutogens and pathogens across levels of residential racial segregation. This cross-sectional study uses county-level data to describe the distribution of salutogenic (i.e., number of schools, health facilities, banks, religious institutions, and social/community service facilities) and pathogenic ( i.e., number of fast food places, gas stations, liquor stores, pawn shops, owned vs. rented housing, waste treatment facilities) determinants of health on a national scale. The dissimilarity index (D) was used to measure residential segregation for whites, blacks, and Hispanics. We found that a disproportionate amount of salutogens were present in white neighborhoods, while black and Hispanic neighborhoods housed a disproportionate number of pathogens. Highly racially segregated neighborhoods shoulder a disproportionate burden of pathogenic exposures and these exposure disparities may modify risk factors for adverse health outcomes. Furthermore, we found that pathogenic exposures were especially pronounced in high poverty and highly segregated neighborhoods.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the role that segregation plays in driving the spatial distribution of salutogens and pathogens. Describe the role that segregation plays in driving environmental health disparities. Analyze environmental health at the community level using epidemiologic methods.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Environmental Exposures

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working on the project and pursuing the topic as a dissertation.
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.