Changes in Exposure to Industrial Air Pollution Across the United States from 1995 to 2004

Friday, July 18, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Kerry ARD , School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
At the basis of a large part of the environmental justice literature is an interest in understanding how exposure to industrial toxins varies by race and class in the United States. However, since the beginning of this field deindustrialization has created dramatic declines in industrial air pollution, the toxicity levels of these pollutants, and shifts in the spatial patterns of racial and economic groups.  Current work in this field has rarely taking these trends over time into account.  Because environmental justice theories in this area are based on industry and how it puts some populations at risk more than others, to understand how these industries are changing over time is important for evaluating the continued usefulness of current environmental inequality theory.  This paper addresses these limitations by examining the annual exposure to 572 industrial chemicals weighted by their toxicity to human health across the United States for the years 1995 to 2004.  Results show that greater socioeconomic success does not translate into increased protection from exposure to industrial toxins in the same way for African-Americans, whites and Hispanics.  These results provide an argument to amend current environmental justice theory to consider how federal environmental regulation of industry interacts with changes in demographics.