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Concentrating Risk? The Geographic Concentration of Health Risk from Industrial Air Toxins

Sat, August 10, 4:30 to 6:10pm, New York Hilton, Floor: Fourth Floor, Hudson


Since the 1970's stricter environmental regulations have been enacted across the U.S. which have led to broad scale declines in the total amount of air pollutants being emitted into the air, as well as the toxicity of these chemicals (Ard 2015). However it is likely these declines have not been felt equally across geographic areas thereby having different implications for the health of diverse demographics. For example, types and the ages of industrial facilities are differentially located across the country, in fact research shows that manufacturing in America's metro areas have become increasingly specialized since the 1980's (Helper et al. 2010). If certain chemicals created by different industrial production processes have been more strictly regulated than others, and these industries are more likely to be located in certain geographic areas, then the resulting decrease in risk will affect those populations disproportionately. This paper explores the changing landscape of exposure to industrial air toxins from 1988 to 2004 by calculating the Getis-Ord statistic for each state across the U.S. to determine if pollution is concentrating in certain areas and explores what the characteristics of the areas in which the health risk from industrial toxins have been getting worse and where has it been getting better. Results have implications for health disparity and environmental justice research.