The One-Two-Three Punch: Exposure, Susceptibility, and Disease Burden among U.S. Populations of Color.

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Author: Nate Seltenrich
Date: Mar. 2022
From: Environmental Health Perspectives(Vol. 130, Issue 3)
Publisher: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Document Type: Report
Length: 1,117 words
Lexile Measure: 1900L

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Multiple studies have demonstrated that people of color in the United States are typically exposed to higher levels of air pollution than White Americans, regardless of income. (1,2,3) This persistent inequity appears to increase vulnerability to pollution-related disease among these groups. (4) The authors of a new paper in Environmental Health Perspectives explored whether health disparities might be reduced if federal regulators considered differences in the association between air pollution exposure and mortality across different racial/ethnic groups. (5)

Many of the same policies and practices that have led to poorer air quality in communities of color, such as redlining and inequitable siting of freeways and industrial facilities, have also increased residents' vulnerability to pollution, according to the authors of the new paper. "In the end, what we have is a manifestation of different facets of systemic racism that have left Black American communities in particular with less access to health care, less access to educational opportunity, worse socioeconomic factors, and less access to credit," says first author Elisheba Spiller, a lead senior economist with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). "All of the systemic racism that's part of our society has built up to these communities having worse health outcomes when exposed to environmental pollution."

A 2017 report in the New England Journal of Medicine helped quantify this disparity in susceptibility by calculating race-specific concentration-response functions (CRFs), or estimated relationships, between air pollution and mortality, based on a representative nationwide sample of Medicare recipients. (4) This influential study suggested that Black, Asian, and Hispanic Americans, as well as less-affluent people overall, had a higher estimated risk of death from any cause in association with exposure to fine particulate matter (P[M.sub.2.5]), compared...

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