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Racial Differences in Perceptions of Air Pollution Health Risk: Does Environmental Exposure Matter?

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 116;
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 14 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
PDF [1063 KB, uploaded 25 January 2017]


This article extends environmental risk perception research by exploring how potential health risk from exposure to industrial and vehicular air pollutants, as well as other contextual and socio-demographic factors, influence racial/ethnic differences in air pollution health risk perception. Our study site is the Greater Houston metropolitan area, Texas, USA—a racially/ethnically diverse area facing high levels of exposure to pollutants from both industrial and transportation sources. We integrate primary household-level survey data with estimates of excess cancer risk from ambient exposure to industrial and on-road mobile source emissions of air toxics obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Statistical analysis is based on multivariate generalized estimation equation models which account for geographic clustering of surveyed households. Our results reveal significantly higher risk perceptions for non-Hispanic Black residents and those exposed to greater cancer risk from industrial pollutants, and also indicate that gender influences the relationship between race/ethnicity and air pollution risk perception. These findings highlight the need to incorporate measures of environmental health risk exposure in future analysis of social disparities in risk perception. View Full-Text
Keywords: risk perception; air pollution; cancer risk; race/ethnicity; Houston risk perception; air pollution; cancer risk; race/ethnicity; Houston

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Chakraborty, J.; Collins, T.W.; Grineski, S.E.; Maldonado, A. Racial Differences in Perceptions of Air Pollution Health Risk: Does Environmental Exposure Matter? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 116.

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