Distributive justice in environmental health hazards from industrial contamination: A systematic review of national and near-national assessments of social inequalities.

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Date: Mar. 2022
From: Social Science & Medicine(Vol. 297)
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Clinical report
Length: 477 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Environmental justice; Environmental distributive justice; Environmental Health; Social Disadvantage; Social Determinants of Health; Health inequalities; Contaminated sites; Industrial pollution Highlights * Pollution may be disproportionally directed to socially deprived communities. * National/subnational assessments can detect local and systemic inequalities. * Studies are few (except in USA). Methods and results are heterogenous. * Most evidence supports disparity, with many differences among countries. * We give recommendations for effective assessments to improve knowledge and policy. Abstract Communities where polluting human activities are sited often show disadvantage in terms of social and economic variables. Environmental distributive justice studies seek to identify common characteristics in exposed populations and highlight the presence of environmental inequalities. We have conducted a review of the existing literature about justice in the distribution of health hazards from industrial pollution. We included papers investigating associations between social disadvantage and contamination through assessments at national or macro-area level. From each study we extracted: indicators for the social determinants of exposed communities (classified according to PROGRESS-plus categories); definition and measurement of environmental hazard (as either proximity to contamination sources, exposure to emissions or health impacts from pollutants); study design and methods; significant results. We retrieved 45 eligible articles. Most publications were from USA and had a nationwide scope with data at municipal/sub-municipal scale. Socioeconomic position and race/ethnicity were the social determinants most often explored, followed by occupation and education; air pollution was the commonest sort of contamination, while proximity prevailed as measurement of hazard. All papers found significant associations between social dimensions and health hazard from industrial contamination: the majority of associations supported an increased burden on vulnerable categories, especially ethnic minorities and unemployed -- however, several relationships were found in the opposite direction or in both ways, particularly with wealth and education, reflecting a mixed reality where potential discrimination in siting decisions coexists with socioeconomic benefits for nearby communities due to industrial development. Assessments of environmental distributive justice are lacking in most countries and those that are conducted show vast methodological heterogeneity. We recommend consistency in models and indicators, the inclusion of female-led households among indicators of social disadvantage, and the adoption of a small scale to elicit significant findings and provide meaningful policy action. Author Affiliation: (a) Unit of Environmental and Social Epidemiology, Department of Environment and Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy (b) School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Parma. Via Volturno 39, 43125, Parma, Italy (c) WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health in Contaminated Sites, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy * Corresponding author. School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Parma. Via Volturno 39, 43125, Parma, Italy. Article History: Received 9 March 2021; Revised 19 January 2022; Accepted 16 February 2022 Byline: Di Fonzo Davide [davide.difonzo@studenti.unipr.it] (a,b,*), Fabri Alessandra (a,c), Pasetto Roberto (a,c)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A696649697