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Intersectional environmental justice and population health inequalities: A novel approach


Drawing on the traditions of environmental justice, intersectionality, and social determinants of health, and using data from the EPA's NATA 2014 estimates of cancer risk from air toxics, we demonstrate a novel quantitative approach to evaluate intersectional environmental health risks to communities: Eco-Intersectional Multilevel (EIM) modeling. Results from previous case studies were found to generalize to national-level patterns, with multiply marginalized tracts with a high percent of Black and Latinx residents, high percent female-headed households, lower educational attainment, and metro location experiencing the highest risk. Overall, environmental health inequalities in cancer risk from air toxics are: (1) experienced intersectionally at the community-level, (2) significant in magnitude, and (3) socially patterned across numerous intersecting axes of marginalization, including axes rarely evaluated such as gendered family structure. EIM provides an innovative approach that will enable explicit consideration of structural/institutional social processes in the social production of intersectional and geospatial inequalities.

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