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Article

Framing Environmental Health Decision-Making: The Struggle over Cumulative Impacts Policy

1
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, 2234 L SPH, 255 Valley Drive, College Park, MD 20742, USA
2
Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland, 1111 Woods Hall, 4302 Chapel Lane, College Park, MD 20742, USA
3
Department of Health Policy and Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, 950 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editors: Jayajit Chakraborty, Sara E. Grineski and Timothy W. Collins
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 3947; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083947
Received: 14 March 2021 / Revised: 5 April 2021 / Accepted: 7 April 2021 / Published: 9 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Emerging Topics in Environmental Justice)
Little progress has been made to advance U.S. federal policy responses to growing scientific findings about cumulative environmental health impacts and risks, which also show that many low income and racial and ethnic minority populations bear a disproportionate share of multiple environmental burdens. Recent scholarship points to a “standard narrative” by which policy makers rationalize their slow efforts on environmental justice because of perceived lack of data and analytical tools. Using a social constructivist approach, ethnographic research methods, and content analysis, we examined the social context of policy challenges related to cumulative risks and impacts in the state of Maryland between 2014 and 2016. We identified three frames about cumulative impacts as a health issue through which conflicts over such policy reforms materialize and are sustained: (a) perceptions of evidence, (b) interpretations of social justice, and (c) expectations of authoritative bodies. Our findings illustrate that policy impasse over cumulative impacts is highly dependent on how policy-relevant actors come to frame issues around legislating cumulative impacts, rather than the “standard narrative” of external constraints. Frame analysis may provide us with more robust understandings of policy processes to address cumulative risks and impacts and the social forces that create health policy change. View Full-Text
Keywords: US; cumulative risk; framing theory; environmental justice; public policy; health disparities; ethnographic research US; cumulative risk; framing theory; environmental justice; public policy; health disparities; ethnographic research
MDPI and ACS Style

Payne-Sturges, D.C.; Sangaramoorthy, T.; Mittmann, H. Framing Environmental Health Decision-Making: The Struggle over Cumulative Impacts Policy. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3947. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083947

AMA Style

Payne-Sturges DC, Sangaramoorthy T, Mittmann H. Framing Environmental Health Decision-Making: The Struggle over Cumulative Impacts Policy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(8):3947. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083947

Chicago/Turabian Style

Payne-Sturges, Devon C., Thurka Sangaramoorthy, and Helen Mittmann. 2021. "Framing Environmental Health Decision-Making: The Struggle over Cumulative Impacts Policy" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 8: 3947. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083947

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