Population Characteristics and Environmental Health
Population Characteristics and Health
Studies show that education, occupation, and income are associated with health
problems such as heart disease, asthma, and lung cancer. These kinds of associations
are important to consider when deciding whether connections exist between the environment and health outcomes.
Population Characteristics and the Environment
Although the association between population characteristics and the environment is difficult to measure, research shows that these factors do affect a person’s exposure to environmental hazards. Racial minorities and low-income populations are more likely to live near hazardous waste sites and in areas with high air pollution and poor housing conditions. This may increase exposure to several environmental conditions that can threaten health.
Environment Matters: Statistics
Low-income populations, minorities, and children living in inner cities have more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths resulting from asthma than the general population.
In Louisiana, in the Industrial Corridor, the incidence rates for all cancers combined among African-American women was slightly higher than in Louisiana as a whole, and significantly higher among African-American men (Cancer in Louisiana, 2003-2007
In New York, people living within a half mile of toxic land sites were 66% more likely to be hospitalized for asthma, 30% more likely to be poor, and 13% more likely to be a member of a minority group than people outside the half mile radius.
Children living below or near the poverty level are more likely to have high blood-cotinine levels than children living in higher income families. Blood-cotinine levels are a way of telling whether someone has been exposed to secondhand smoke. Children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke are at a higher risk for acute lower respiratory infections, asthma, and middle ear infections. Some studies suggest that crowded housing and lower parental education levels may be contributing factors.