Online Program

Environmental injustice in the lowcountry: An analysis of disparities in air toxic exposure and cancer risks in Charleston, South Carolina

Monday, November 4, 2013

LaShanta Rice, PhD, MPH, Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Chengsheng Jiang, PhD, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH), University of Maryland-College Park, College Park, MD
Kristen Burwell, MPH, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH), University of Maryland - College Park, College Park, MD
Laura Delamarre, MPH, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, University of Maryland-College Park, College Park, MD
Sacoby Wilson, MS, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Background: Disadvantaged and low-income populations bear an unequal burden of air toxics exposure and risk due to the spatial distribution of environmental contaminants. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess the relative contribution of various pollution sources to cancer risk across socioeconomic and racial characteristics in Metropolitan Charleston, South Carolina. Methods: Cancer risk estimates were extracted from the National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment and linked with 2000 Census tract data. Data linking and statistical analyses were performed in R. Maps were developed in ArcGIS version 10. Relative risk and 95% confidence intervals of elevated risk were calculated across exposure source and quartiles of socioeconomic and racial characteristics. Chi-square tests were used to test the variance in the percentage of high cancer risk between quartiles. Results: Background and on-road source risk were significantly higher than risks from other sources. Percent non-white was highly correlated (0.35) with cancer risks among race/ethnicity variables. Percent homeownership was more correlated with cancer risks than other socioeconomic variables. Percent persons with less than a high school education was highly correlated with area risk, yet not significantly correlated with major, on-road, or non-road source risks. Facilities contributing to area source cancer risk were in close proximity to low-income and non-white populations. Conclusions: Based our findings, cancer risk disparities exist in Metropolitan Charleston by race/ethnicity and educational attainment. Future studies should examine background and on-road sources of cancer risk to reduce disparities from burden of environmental and cancer risk among socioeconomic disadvantaged and minority populations.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss disproportionate cancer risk burden in low-income populations and communities of color Discuss the relative contribution of pollution sources to cancer risk across socioeconomic and racial characteristics Demonstrate the utility of an environmental assessment tool for assessing cancer risk in environmental justice communities

Keyword(s): Environmental Exposures, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a public health professional with 8 years of experience in cancer research. I have worked in diverse capcitities with the community assessed in this analysis for the last 3 years. This research is directly aligned with my dissertation and current research efforts. Hence, I have experience and training in both learning areas and I have publications relevant to environmental justice.
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.