Inequities in Enviornmental Stressors


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Talk examines racially disproportionate impact of 5 proven environmental stressors

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Inequities in Enviornmental Stressors

  1. 1. Inequities in Environmental Stress: Implications for Environmental Justice Larry Baker WaterThink, LLC and University of Minnesota Water Resources Center Guest lecture presented for ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND SOCIAL CHANGE Augsburg College Sept. 29, 2009
  2. 2. <ul><li>Understand assumptions & values that lead to environmental and social justice </li></ul><ul><li>* Understand disproportionate impacts on subpopulations – vulnerable, disadvantaged, underrepresented </li></ul><ul><li>3. Apply skills of assessment, problem identification and intervention </li></ul><ul><li>4. Identify social change interventions to address environmental injustice. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Implement interventions at the micro, meso and macro levels to support social justice </li></ul><ul><li>Develop conceptual basis for role of workers striving for environmental justice. </li></ul>Your class goals (condensed from syllabus) WaterThink, LLC
  3. 3. Environmental Stressors <ul><li>I will consider only human health only (not trees, birds, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Working definition: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Environmental” = biophysical stressors, not social </li></ul><ul><li>Weight of evidence for environmental stress: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Biological mechanism – do we understand why a potential “stressor” impairs health? </li></ul><ul><li>2. Epidemiology – </li></ul><ul><li>What is the distribution of the stressor (chemical; noise levels, etc.) in affected populations? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there an empirical relationship between the stressor and specific health endpoints? </li></ul><ul><li>- specific disease </li></ul><ul><li>- broad morbidity </li></ul><ul><li>- mortality </li></ul>WaterThink, LLC
  4. 4. How important are environmental stressors to the health of disadvantaged groups? Would reducing these environmental stressors improve the mental and physical health of these groups? Questions WaterThink, LLC
  5. 5. Environmental Stressors to be Considered <ul><li>Lead </li></ul><ul><li>Heat </li></ul><ul><li>Noise </li></ul><ul><li>Air pollution (ozone) </li></ul><ul><li>Why these? </li></ul><ul><li>All disproportionately affect poor, disadvantaged, or young/old groups </li></ul><ul><li>All have proven biological mechanisms for causing stress </li></ul><ul><li>They are widespread, not isolated </li></ul><ul><li>They are all solvable problems </li></ul><ul><li>Solving them would improve the lives of disproportionately affected groups </li></ul>WaterThink, LLC
  6. 6. Lead effects are well understood Source: Needleman, 2004 - “Elevated BLL” > 10 ug/dL - Effects down to 2 ug/dL - Clinical symptoms > 60 WaterThink, LLC
  7. 7. Elevated blood lead levels in the U.S. by race, income, and urban status Source: Brody et al., 1994 “ Elevated” blood lead = 10 ug/dL WaterThink, LLC
  8. 8. Historical trend: American children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels greater than 10 ug/dL Source: Centers for Disease Control (several sources) WaterThink, LLC 3.1 1.3 1.6 1999-2002 11.2 2.3 4.4 1991-1994 18 6 8.6 1988-1991 -- -- 88.2 1976-1980 Black, non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic All races % of children  
  9. 9. Minnesota children tested for lead who have elevated blood lead levels (Source: MN Dept. of Health) MNHCP = Minnesota Health Care Programs (low income) WaterThink, LLC
  10. 10. Trend of Blood Lead Levels in Minnesota’s children Source: Minnesota's Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs: Report to the Legislature, Feb. 2009 WaterThink, LLC
  11. 11. Old buildings (source) Inner city neighborhood Stormwater Sediment accumulation zones Pealing paint Suburban region Air dispersal Rural areas Streams and rivers Ocean Air dispersal Soil (source) Where does lead come from? Where does it go? A biogeochemist’s perspective Source: Baker (2009) The Water Environment of Cities Street sweeping Landfill WaterThink, LLC
  12. 12. Stressor #2: Heat Source: NOAA WaterThink, LLC
  13. 13. Heat stress from urban heat island WaterThink, LLC
  14. 14. <ul><li>Heat island effect </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Baker et al. 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Largest difference at night </li></ul><ul><li>Nighttime difference can be 10 o F </li></ul>Urban heat island
  15. 15. Effect of urban heat island on violent crime Source: Anderson, 2001. National average: 450 violent crimes per 100,000 (FBI statistics) From graph: UHI effect = 10 o F = + 45 violent crimes/100,000 (10% increase) WaterThink, LLC
  16. 16. Long term average = 170/year Distribution of heat-related deaths in the U.S. WaterThink, LLC
  17. 17. Mitigation of urban heat island Source: EPA websites WaterThink, LLC
  18. 18. Stressor #3: Air pollution <ul><li>Disproportionate effect: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. Greater exposure (inner city) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Greater sensitivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- higher incidence of smoking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- higher asthma rates </li></ul></ul>WaterThink, LLC
  19. 19. Asthma rates among racial and ethnic groups in Hennepin County Source: MN Dept of Health, Asthma in Minnesota 2008 WaterThink, LLC
  20. 20. Environmental triggers for asthma Source: Centers for Disease Control <ul><li>Second-hand (or first hand) smoke </li></ul><ul><li>Dust mites </li></ul><ul><li>Outdoor air pollution (esp. ozone) </li></ul><ul><li>Cockroach allergen </li></ul><ul><li>Mold </li></ul>WaterThink, LLC
  21. 21. Source: Aeromatic Information Retrieval System (AIRS), Environmental Protection Agency (Slide from the Centers for Disease Control). Persons Living in Areas that do not Meet EPA Standards for Ozone Percent of population 2010 Target = 0% 1997 2004 Total American Indian White Black Hispanic Asian Native Hawaiian Decrease desired
  22. 22. Stressor #4: Noise pollution WaterThink, LLC
  23. 23. One example of noise levels: Mpls-St. Paul Airport WaterThink, LLC
  24. 24. Stressor #5 Toxins Fish Consumption Advisory Study Burgess et al., J. Risk Assessment, 2004 Reasons advisory has not followed: 1. Failure to hear about advisory: 38% Hispanic, 45% black; 68% white 2. Advisory ignored: - Distrust of the government - Suspicious of government motives -Failure of anyone who got sick -Belief that they could determine if a fish was bad by look or smell. WaterThink, LLC
  25. 25. Summing up <ul><li>Lines of evidence for human health risks: </li></ul><ul><li>1. Mechanism of action </li></ul><ul><li>2. Epidemiology – exposure and outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Do disadvantaged groups suffer disproportionately from environmental heath risks? </li></ul><ul><li>YES! </li></ul><ul><li>Lead </li></ul><ul><li>Heat </li></ul><ul><li>Noise </li></ul><ul><li>Air pollution/asthma </li></ul><ul><li>What is the cumulative (combined effect) to disadvantaged groups? Unknown </li></ul>Prediction: High enough to be “unjust” WaterThink, LLC
  26. 26. Breakout discussion topics <ul><li>Group 1: What disciplines (types of professions) would be needed to develop the knowledge needed to combat these disproportionate environmental impacts? </li></ul><ul><li>Group 2: To what extent do you think exposure to environmental stressors is deliberate vs. inadvertent? Try this ranking for each of the stressors in the lecture (ozone, asthma, lead, noise, heat). </li></ul><ul><li>Group 3. How could you mobilize a community to reduce its exposure? What are the barriers that you would expect to encounter? </li></ul><ul><li>Group 4: What is the impact on the individual, family, neighborhood and community of such stressors? Identify the connections between these levels. </li></ul><ul><li>Group 5: Why do disadvantaged communities allow these environmental risks to occur to them? What social barriers to be overcome? </li></ul>WaterThink, LLC
  27. 27. References Anderson, C. A. 2001. Heat and violence. derson, C.A. Current Directions in Psychological Science 10 . Baker, L. 2009. New directions in urban pollution management. in L. A. Baker, editor. The Water Environment of Cities. Springer Science, Lowell, MA. Baker, L. A., A. J. Brazel, N. Selover, C. Martin, N. McIntyre, F. R. Steiner, A. Nelson, and L. Musacchio. 2002. Urbanization and warming of Phoenix (Arizona, USA): Impacts, feedbacks, and mitigation. Urban Ecosystems 6 :183-203. Brody, D., J. L. Pirkle, R. A. Kramer, K. M. Flegal, T. D. Matte, Gunter, E.W., and D. C. Paschal. 1994. Blood lead levels in the U.S. population. Phase I fo the Third National Health adn Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II, 1988-1991) Burgess et al. 2004 ? Chepesiuk, R. 2005. Decibel Hell. Environmental Health Perspectives 113 :A37-A41. Needleman, H. 2004. Lead poisoning. Annu. Rev. Med 55 :209-222. JAMA 272 :277-283.