222137 Neighborhood-based nonchemical stressors and exposure to air toxics: An analysis of the 2002 National Air Toxics Assessment data and socioeconomic characteristics of U.S. census tracts relating to vulnerable populations

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

Gary S. Young, MPH, DrPH-Candidate , Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Thomas. A. Glass, PhD , Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Mary A. Fox, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Frank C. Curriero, PhD , Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Michael A. Trush, PhD , Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
This paper analyzes recently released data from the 2002 National Air Toxics Assessment. This assessment incorporates data assembled in accordance the Clean Air Act concerning emissions of chemicals officially classified as hazardous pollutants (HAPs). The 2002 assessment includes modeled ambient air concentrations of 132 chemicals and associated respiratory and neurological health hazard quotients and cancer-related unit risk factors for individual census tracks. This paper analyzes the variation in the distribution of HAP exposure and associated health risks in relation to key socioeconomic characteristics of U.S. census tracts. These variables have been found related to population vulnerability to disease processes in the social epidemiology literature, and thus, may constitute “nonchemical stressors.” Nonchemical stressors and buffers are also thought to modify the toxic effects of chemical stressors. The National Research Council's Committee on Improving Risk Analysis recently called for incorporating nonchemical stressors into cumulative risk assessment to improve risk science and better protect vulnerable populations. Among the community characteristics analyzed are measures relating to ethnic diversity, linguistic isolation, social cohesion and isolation (single person households; single parent families), educational attainment, levels of poverty and employment, housing density, housing values and distressed housing markets, and residential population with mental and physical disabilities. The findings of this paper include the identification of a key subset of nonchemical stressors which are most highly associated with exposure to air toxics in the 2002 NATA. These nonchemical stressors may be usefully employed as a policy tool for screening for overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe some key conclusions from an analysis of the recently released 2002 National Air Toxics Assessment. Identify key community characteristics measured in the U.S. census that relate to nonchemical stressors as markers for vulnerable populations Describe the relationship between exposure to air toxics, as measured in the NATA data, and the geographic distribution among census tracts that are characterized by vulnerable populations.

Keywords: Hazardous Air Pollutants, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have professional training and credentials in environmental health sciences, epidemiology, and risk assessment.
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.