Objectives: We documented inequitable, cumulative environmental risk exposure and health between predominantly White low-income and middle-income children residing in rural areas in upstate New York.
Methods: Cross-sectional data for 216 third- through fifth-grade children included overnight urinary neuroendocrine levels, noise levels, residential crowding (people/room), and housing quality.
Results: After control for income, maternal education, family structure, age, and gender, cumulative environmental risk exposure (0-3) (risk >1 SD above the mean for each singular risk factor [0, 1]) was substantially greater for low-income children. Cumulative environmental risk was positively correlated with elevated overnight epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol in the low-income sample but not in the middle-income sample.
Conclusions: Cumulative environmental risk exposure among low-income families may contribute to bad health, beginning in early childhood.