Air pollution health risks: do class and race matter?

Toxicol Ind Health. 1993 Sep-Oct;9(5):843-78. doi: 10.1177/074823379300900509.


Air pollution is not spread evenly across demographic groups. Exposures and associated health risks appear to fall disproportionately on populations that are poor and nonwhite. Although scientific evidence documenting disparities in air pollution exposures, doses, and health effects is scant, the available data strongly support the contention that disadvantaged groups, many of whom are ethnic and racial minorities, routinely encounter levels of air pollution that are higher than average. The extent to which exposure differentials contribute to observed differences in health status by class and race is unknown, but worthy of further investigation. We recommend several steps, all of them feasible and most of them relatively inexpensive, to improve our understanding and ability to address environmental health disparities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Environmental Health*
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Lead