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. 2017 Mar;4(1):61-67.
doi: 10.1007/s40572-017-0123-6.

Concepts for Studying Urban Environmental Justice


Concepts for Studying Urban Environmental Justice

Jason Corburn. Curr Environ Health Rep. .


Purpose of review: This paper offers research frameworks for understanding and acting to address urban environmental justice. Urban neighborhoods tend to concentrate and colocate vulnerable people and toxic environments. Cities are also where the poor and people of color tend to be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards, such as air pollution, lead in paint and water, and polluting industries.

Recent findings: Researchers and government agencies are increasingly recognizing the need to document cumulative exposures that the urban poor and people of color experience in addition to environmental hazards. These "toxic stressors" can exacerbate the health impacts of pollution exposures and include such social and economic factors as discrimination, racism, linguistic isolation, and political exclusion. Urban environmental justice research can benefit from a structural racism approach, which requires documenting the historical decisions, institutions, and policies that contribute to today's cumulative exposures. Key research frameworks and methods utilizing this approach for urban environmental justice include community-based participatory research, measuring cumulative stressors, and community-based asset and hazard mapping.

Keywords: Cities; Environmental justice; Toxic stress; Urban health.

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