Moving Environmental Justice Indoors: Understanding Structural Influences on Residential Exposure Patterns in Low-Income Communities

Department of Environmental Health Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 08/2011; 101 Suppl 1(S1):S238-45. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300119
Source: PubMed


The indoor environment has not been fully incorporated into the environmental justice dialogue. To inform strategies to reduce disparities, we developed a framework to identify the individual and place-based drivers of indoor environment quality.
We reviewed empirical evidence of socioeconomic disparities in indoor exposures and key determinants of these exposures for air pollutants, lead, allergens, and semivolatile organic compounds. We also used an indoor air quality model applied to multifamily housing to illustrate how nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) and fine particulate matter (PM(2.5)) vary as a function of factors known to be influenced by socioeconomic status.
Indoor concentrations of multiple pollutants are elevated in low-socioeconomic status households. Differences in these exposures are driven by the combined influences of indoor sources, outdoor sources, physical structures, and residential activity patterns. Simulation models confirmed indoor sources' importance in determining indoor NO(2) and PM(2.5) exposures and showed the influence of household-specific determinants.
Both theoretical models and empirical evidence emphasized that disparities in indoor environmental exposure can be significant. Understanding key determinants of multiple indoor exposures can aid in developing policies to reduce these disparities.

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