Proximity to industrial toxins and childhood respiratory, developmental, and neurological diseases: environmental ascription in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
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Recent research has identified East Baton Rouge Parish (EBR), Louisiana, as a locus of particularly high volumes of emissions of developmental neurotoxins, i.e., those toxins that put children’s health and, especially, learning abilities at greatest risk. This case study specifies the degree to which proximity to the main sources of these toxins in EBR is associated, in a bivariate sense, with high rates of neurodevelopmental diseases among children, as well as rates of childhood asthma, at the zip code level. We also examine the bivariate relationship between proximity to toxins and race and class. Even within this highly polluted context encompassing twenty zip codes, we find very strong patterns: disease rates are significantly higher in zip codes close to pollution “hot spots” than in more distant zip codes, as are percent minority and percent poverty. These patterns add to the body of evidence on “environmental ascription”, the existence of multiple, overlapping ascriptions based on race, class, and “place”, with additional emphasis on, and implications for, children’s health.
KeywordsEnvironmental inequality Environmental ascription
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