Immigrant Hispanic residents living in the Miami area face disproportionately higher exposures than their U.S.-born Hispanic and white counterparts to cancer-causing air pollution and other environmental risks, according to a recent study that sheds new light on long-unsettled national concerns about environmental injustice. Immigrant Hispanics face about the same level of these environmental risks as Miami’s black population.
The study, “Hazard Characteristics and Patterns of Environmental Injustice: Household-level Determinants of Environmental Risk in Miami, Florida,” was based on a random sample survey of 602 residents in the tri-county Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area.
“One of the novel elements of the study was that we disaggregated Hispanic participants based on whether they were born in the U.S. or whether they had immigrated here,” says Sara Grineski, a Professor of Sociology at University of Texas at El Paso. “Doing this made a lot of sense given the demographics of the Miami study area—40% of residents are Hispanic.“
Professor Grineski adds: “Had we not divided the Hispanic residents into two groups, we would not have realized this difference.”
The study, published in the online version of Risk Analysis, a publication of the Society for Risk Analysis, was conducted with University of Texas colleagues Timothy Collins and Jayajit Chakraborty and Marilyn Montgomery of University of Pennsylvania.
The findings highlight the need to provide risk communications and information about relevant environmental hazards in both Spanish and English, says Professor Grinkesi. The research also suggests that some Miami residents most exposed to environmental health hazards may lack access to health insurance and regular health care because some Hispanic immigrants are not legal permanent residents and therefore, unlike legal permanent residents, are ineligible to purchase coverage under the Affordable Care Act.