This article contributes to distributive environmental justice (EJ) research on air pollution by analyzing racial/ethnic and related intra-categorical disparities in health risk from exposure to on-road hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in Harris County, Texas. Previous studies in this urban area have not examined intra-ethnic heterogeneity in EJ outcomes or disproportionate exposure to vehicular pollutants. Our goal was to determine how the EJ implications of cancer risk from exposure to on-road HAP sources differ across and within each major racial/ethnic group (Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks, and non-Hispanic Whites), based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (2011) and American Community Survey (2009–2013). Statistical analyses are based on generalized estimating equations which account for clustering of analytic units. Results indicated that Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks are exposed to significantly higher cancer risk than non-Hispanic Whites. When each racial/ethnic group was disaggregated based on contextually relevant characteristics, individuals who are in poverty, foreign-born, renters, and have limited English proficiency are found to be disproportionately located in areas exposed to significantly higher cancer risk, regardless of their major racial/ethnic designation. Our findings underscore the need to conduct intra-categorical EJ analysis for uncovering inequalities that get concealed when broadly defined racial/ethnic categories are used.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited