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Mapping the Racial Inequality in Place: Using Youth Perceptions to Identify Unequal Exposure to Neighborhood Environmental Hazards

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ABSTRACT

Black youth are more likely than white youth to grow up in poor, segregated neighborhoods. This racial inequality in the neighborhood environments of black youth increases their contact with hazardous neighborhood environmental features including violence and toxic exposures that contribute to racial inequality in youth health and well-being. While the concept of neighborhood effects has been studied at length by social scientists, this work has not been as frequently situated within an environmental justice (EJ) paradigm. The present study used youth perceptions gained from in-depth interviews with youth from one Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania neighborhood to identify neighborhood environmental health hazards. We then mapped these youth-identified features to examine how they are spatially and racially distributed across the city. Our results suggest that the intersection of race and poverty, neighborhood disorder, housing abandonment, and crime were salient issues for youth. The maps show support for the youths’ assertions that the environments of black and white individuals across the city of Pittsburgh differ in noteworthy ways. This multi-lens, mixed-method analysis was designed to challenge some of the assumptions we make about addressing environmental inequality using youths’ own opinions on the issue to drive our inquiry.

No MeSH data available.


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Heat map of illegal dumpsites across the city of Pittsburgh.
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ijerph-13-00844-f002: Heat map of illegal dumpsites across the city of Pittsburgh.

Mentions: They described litter and waste as a major problem in the community and a visual indicator of both environmental problems and a lack of response to these problems. As a proxy for litter, we mapped the prevalence of illegal dumpsites in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. While illegal dumpsites are an imperfect proxy for the presence of trash and litter, and it is important to make the distinction between the etiology of litter [67] and illegal dumping [68], in our observations over the course of several years working in Homewood, Homewood was the site of both high levels of litter and illegal dumpsites. These data were obtained from Allegheny Cleanways, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that works to eliminate and clean up illegal dumping and litter in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In their most recent report, Allegheny Cleanways described the most common types of waste in Pittsburgh’s illegal dumpsites as tires and household waste (particularly hard-to-dispose-of items such as televisions) [69]. The following map (Figure 2) uses kernel density mapping to create a “heat map” that shows the density of occurrence of illegal dumpsites across Pittsburgh.


Mapping the Racial Inequality in Place: Using Youth Perceptions to Identify Unequal Exposure to Neighborhood Environmental Hazards
Heat map of illegal dumpsites across the city of Pittsburgh.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5036677&req=5

ijerph-13-00844-f002: Heat map of illegal dumpsites across the city of Pittsburgh.
Mentions: They described litter and waste as a major problem in the community and a visual indicator of both environmental problems and a lack of response to these problems. As a proxy for litter, we mapped the prevalence of illegal dumpsites in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. While illegal dumpsites are an imperfect proxy for the presence of trash and litter, and it is important to make the distinction between the etiology of litter [67] and illegal dumping [68], in our observations over the course of several years working in Homewood, Homewood was the site of both high levels of litter and illegal dumpsites. These data were obtained from Allegheny Cleanways, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that works to eliminate and clean up illegal dumping and litter in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In their most recent report, Allegheny Cleanways described the most common types of waste in Pittsburgh’s illegal dumpsites as tires and household waste (particularly hard-to-dispose-of items such as televisions) [69]. The following map (Figure 2) uses kernel density mapping to create a “heat map” that shows the density of occurrence of illegal dumpsites across Pittsburgh.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Black youth are more likely than white youth to grow up in poor, segregated neighborhoods. This racial inequality in the neighborhood environments of black youth increases their contact with hazardous neighborhood environmental features including violence and toxic exposures that contribute to racial inequality in youth health and well-being. While the concept of neighborhood effects has been studied at length by social scientists, this work has not been as frequently situated within an environmental justice (EJ) paradigm. The present study used youth perceptions gained from in-depth interviews with youth from one Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania neighborhood to identify neighborhood environmental health hazards. We then mapped these youth-identified features to examine how they are spatially and racially distributed across the city. Our results suggest that the intersection of race and poverty, neighborhood disorder, housing abandonment, and crime were salient issues for youth. The maps show support for the youths’ assertions that the environments of black and white individuals across the city of Pittsburgh differ in noteworthy ways. This multi-lens, mixed-method analysis was designed to challenge some of the assumptions we make about addressing environmental inequality using youths’ own opinions on the issue to drive our inquiry.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus