Race, deprivation, and immigrant isolation: The spatial demography of air-toxic clusters in the continental United States

Soc Sci Res. 2015 Nov;54:50-67. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.06.014. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


This article contributes to environmental inequality outcomes research on the spatial and demographic factors associated with cumulative air-toxic health risks at multiple geographic scales across the United States. It employs a rigorous spatial cluster analysis of census tract-level 2005 estimated lifetime cancer risk (LCR) of ambient air-toxic emissions from stationary (e.g., facility) and mobile (e.g., vehicular) sources to locate spatial clusters of air-toxic LCR risk in the continental United States. It then tests intersectional environmental inequality hypotheses on the predictors of tract presence in air-toxic LCR clusters with tract-level principal component factor measures of economic deprivation by race and immigrant status. Logistic regression analyses show that net of controls, isolated Latino immigrant-economic deprivation is the strongest positive demographic predictor of tract presence in air-toxic LCR clusters, followed by black-economic deprivation and isolated Asian/Pacific Islander immigrant-economic deprivation. Findings suggest scholarly and practical implications for future research, advocacy, and policy.

Keywords: Edge effects; Environmental inequality; Hot spots; Intersectionality; Spatial demography; U.S. EPA National Air Toxics Assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Air Pollutants
  • Air Pollution*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • Demography
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Environmental Exposure* / adverse effects
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Facilities
  • Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group
  • Poverty*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Justice
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions