Environmental factor – January 2021: Disparities in environmental health, studies on racism collected at the EHP

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The NIEHS-affiliated journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) has curated a special collection of articles related to exposure and health inequities among black Americans(https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/curated-collections/environmental-racism). EHP started promoting the collection in early August, and in just five months it has received around 2,000 hits. As part of the Environmental Factor series on how the NIEHS works to advance racial equity, we take a closer look at this collection, which complements previous collections on the environmental health of indigenous people(https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/curated-collections/indigenous-health) and age(https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/curated-collections/healthy-aging).

“Motivated by this unprecedented period in American consciousness, we have compiled original research, reviews and other previously published content,” wrote Susan Booker Woolard, editor-in-chief of EHP News, in an internal blog post. from the NIEHS on December 11. “While none of these articles specifically identifies racism as a factor in environmental health, growing evidence indicates that it is, in fact, both a social determinant of health and one public health crisis. “

Environmental racism is rooted in discriminatory policies and practices, for example, in zoning codes and development decisions, as well as in socio-economic disparities. (Image courtesy of NIEHS)

“Blacks had higher death rates than whites for all-cause mortality in all age groups [under age] 65 years old ”, concluded a 2017 report from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The editors of EHP clarified some of these causes in the introduction to the collection.

“Understanding environmental racism is about understanding, in part, the inequity that drives health disparities among black Americans, who face higher rates of infant mortality as well as death from type diabetes. 2, heart disease, multiple cancers, homicide and HIV, compared with white counterparts, ”they wrote. “Yet this and other races [and] ethnic groups tend to be under-represented in studies many chronic diseases that disproportionately affect them.

This under-representation occurs despite a 1993 congressional directive that the National Institutes of Health diversify study populations by race and ethnicity.

collage of drawings consisting of scientist, dna, families and environment “Environmental racism concentrates disadvantaged populations in substandard housing and compromised communities, where hazardous exposures are much more likely,” the EHP editors wrote. (Image courtesy of NIEHS)

From the exception to the norm

Editor-in-chief EHP Joel Kaufman, MD, which began in early 2020, underlined the objectives of the project. “We recognize that racism is a public health crisis with many roots – including those that run deep into the interaction between environment and health,” he said in a statement. August announcement(https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/do/10.5555/c28456dc-c2ca-42f4-b978-d4242588dc20/full/). “This curated collection, which will continue to grow, is a small step in the journal’s work to understand and address the inequalities that fuel disparities in health.”

So far, the collection includes 14 original research papers as well as reviews, feature articles, commentaries and an editorial. All of them were published in EHP from 2004 to 2019.

Windy Boyd, Ph.D. “After the murders of George Floyd and so many others, I felt compelled to use my privilege to expose and confront racism as best I can,” Boyd said. “I hope this collection will be a step towards reducing racism and environmental inequalities.” (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw / NIEHS)

“The journal is actively recruiting more environmental health studies and commentary that directly address structural racism as a factor in health disparities,” said Windy Boyd, Ph.D., senior science editor of the EHP. “We hope to see structural racism and other factors that affect disparities become more the norm than the exception in environmental health research. “

The strategy seems to be working. “The editorial team has noticed an increase in the number of research papers and commentaries submitted for potential publication since we published the collection,” she observed. “We anticipate publishing a few of these articles in early 2021.”

Hot topics

Within the collection, the most frequently cited articles deal with air pollution, maternal and child health, as well as psychosocial and residential factors. Full quotes appear at the end of this article.

  1. Disparities in environmental health: a framework integrating psychosocial and environmental concepts. “
  2. Separate and Unequal: Residential Segregation and Estimated Cancer Risks Associated with Ambient Air Toxics in Metropolitan Areas of the United States. “
  3. Environmental inequalities in exposures to airborne particulate matter components in the United States. “
  4. The environmental “risk landscape” and social inequalities: implications for explaining disparities in maternal and child health. “

Among the press articles, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Research Studies: The Challenge of Creating More Diverse Cohorts, Published in 2015, has the most attention and has even been cited in research articles.

Quotes:
Bell ML, Ebisu K. 2012. Environmental Inequalities in Exposures to Airborne Particulate Matter in the United States. Environ Health Perspect 120 (12): 1699-1704.

Gee GC, Payne-Sturges DC. 2004. Disparities in environmental health: a framework integrating psychosocial and environmental concepts. Environ Health Perspect 112 (17): 1645-1653.

Morello-Frosch R, Jesdale BM. 2006. Separate and Unequal: Residential Segregation and Estimated Cancer Risks Associated with Ambient Air Toxics in Metropolitan Areas of the United States. Environ Health Perspect 114 (3): 386-393.

Morello-Frosch R, Shenassa ED. 2006. The Environmental “Risk Landscape” and Social Inequalities: Implications for Explaining Maternal and Child Health Disparities. Environ Health Perspect 114 (8): 1150-1153.

Oh SS, Galanter J, Thakur N, Pino-Yanes M, Barcelo NE, White MJ, de Bruin DM, Greenblatt RM, Bibbins-Domingo K, Wu AHB, Borrell LN, Gunter C, Powe NR, Burchard EG. 2015. Diversity in clinical and biomedical research: a promise yet to be kept. PLoS Med 12 (12): e1001918.

Cunningham TJ, Croft JB, Liu Y, Lu H, Eke PI, Giles WH. 2017. Vital Signs: Racial Disparities in Age-Specific Mortality Among Blacks or African Americans – United States, 1999-2015. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 66 (17): 444-456.


ehp Strategic Planning Summit, Shaping the Future of Environmental Health Perspectives: Issues and Opportunities, January 28, February 2 and 5, 2021

See the box above for more information. (Image courtesy of NIEHS)


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