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Urban air pollution and health inequities: a workshop report.


Over the past three decades, an array of legislation with attendant regulations has been implemented to enhance the quality of the environment and thereby improve the public's health. Despite the many beneficial changes that have followed, there remains a disproportionately higher prevalence of harmful environmental exposures, particularly air pollution, for certain populations. These populations most often reside in urban settings, have low socioeconomic status, and include a large proportion of ethnic minorities. The disparities between racial/ethnic minority and/or low-income populations in cities and the general population in terms of environmental exposures and related health risks have prompted the "environmental justice" or "environmental equity" movement, which strives to create cleaner environments for the most polluted communities. Achieving cleaner environments will require interventions based on scientific data specific to the populations at risk; however, research in this area has been relatively limited. To assess the current scientific information on urban air pollution and its health impacts and to help set the agenda for immediate intervention and future research, the American Lung Association organized an invited workshop on Urban Air Pollution and Health Inequities held 22-24 October 1999 in Washington, DC. This report builds on literature reviews and summarizes the discussions of working groups charged with addressing key areas relevant to air pollution and health effects in urban environments. An overview was provided of the state of the science for health impacts of air pollution and technologies available for air quality monitoring and exposure assessment. The working groups then prioritized research needs to address the knowledge gaps and developed recommendations for community interventions and public policy to begin to remedy the exposure and health inequities.

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