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Schwarz, L, Benmarhnia T, Laurian L.  2015.  Social Inequalities Related to Hazardous Incinerator Emissions: An Additional Level of Environmental Injustice. Environmental Justice. 8:213-219.   10.1089/env.2015.0022   AbstractWebsite

Environmental justice (EJ) research focuses on disproportionate population exposures to multiple point and non-point pollution sources. The hazardous pollutants released by waste incinerators can contribute to uneven (or unjust) spatial and social distributions of environmental risks. The EJ literature has already revealed that the geographical distribution of incinerators generates distinct social inequalities. In the French context, these inequalities are evident when considering the proportion of unemployed people, the proportion of recent immigrants and the proportion of persons born abroad (each increases the likelihood that a town hosts an incinerator). In this article, we seek to determine whether additional social injustices occur due to disproportionate quantities of incinerator emissions. We collected annual nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from all incinerators in France for 2009-2010. We found that incinerators in French municipalities with higher unemployment and higher proportions of immigrants and persons born abroad have higher NOx emission levels, even when controlling for population size and broader regional social and environmental deprivation indices. This indicates that incinerators in France generate higher social inequalities than initially thought, both due to their spatial distribution and to the amount of emissions they release. We recommend that unequal social impacts should be considered in waste management planning, facility siting decisions, and decisions affecting emission controls for existing and possible future incinerators in France.

Schinasi, LH, Benmarhnia T, De Roos AJ.  2018.  Modification of the association between high ambient temperature and health by urban microclimate indicators: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Research. 161:168-180.   10.1016/j.envres.2017.11.004   AbstractWebsite

Background: Landscape characteristics, including vegetation and impervious surfaces, influence urban micro climates and may lead to within-city differences in the adverse health effects of high ambient temperatures. Objective: Our objective was to quantitatively summarize the epidemiologic literature that assessed microclimate indicators as effect measure modifiers (EMM) of the association between ambient temperature and mortality or morbidity. Methods: We systematically identified papers and abstracted relative risk estimates for hot and cool micro climate indicator strata. We calculated the ratio of the relative risks (RRR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) to assess differences in health effects across strata, and pooled the RRR estimates using random effects meta analyses. Results: Eleven papers were retained. In the pooled analyses, people living in hotter areas within cities (based on land surface temperature or modeled estimates of air temperature) had 6% higher risk of mortality/morbidity compared to those in cooler areas (95% CI: 1.03-1.09). Those living in less vegetated areas had 5% higher risk compared to those living in more vegetated areas (95% CI: 1.00-1.11). Discussion: There is epidemiologic evidence that those living in hotter, and less vegetated areas of cities have higher risk of morbidity or mortality from higher ambient temperature. Further research with improved assessment of landscape characteristics and investigation of the joint effects of physiologic adaptation and landscape will advance the current understanding. Conclusion: This review provides quantitative evidence that intra-urban differences in landscape characteristics and micro-urban heat islands contribute to within-city variability in the health effects of high ambient temperatures.