Effect of air pollution and racism on ethnic differences in respiratory health among adolescents living in an urban environment

Health Place. 2013 Sep;23:171-8. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2013.07.004. Epub 2013 Jul 21.


Recent studies suggest that stress can amplify the harm of air pollution. We examined whether experience of racism and exposure to particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 µm and 10 µm (PM2.5 and PM10) had a synergistic influence on ethnic differences in asthma and lung function across adolescence. Analyses using multilevel models showed lower forced expiratory volume (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC) and lower rates of asthma among some ethnic minorities compared to Whites, but higher exposure to PM2.5, PM10 and racism. Racism appeared to amplify the relationship between asthma and air pollution for all ethnic groups, but did not explain ethnic differences in respiratory health.

Keywords: Ethnicity; Lung function; Racism; air pollution.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Flow Rates
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racism*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / ethnology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Urban Population*
  • Vital Capacity