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Keywords

Community-based research; Cumulative risk; Environmental health; Environmental justice; Equality; Health disparities; Health surveys; Medically underserved areas; Minorities; Poor; Social inequality; Social status – Health aspects; Vulnerability

Abstract

Health disparities, social inequalities, and environmental injustice cumulatively affect individual and community vulnerability and overall health; yet health researchers, social scientists and environmental scientists generally study them separately. Cumulative risk assessment in poor, racially segregated, economically isolated and medically underserved communities needs to account for their multiple layers of vulnerability, including greater susceptibility, greater exposure, less preparedness to cope, and less ability to recover in the face of exposure. Recommendations for evidence-based action in environmental justice communities include: reducing pollution in communities of highest burden; building on community resources; redressing inequality when doing community-based research; and creating a screening framework to identify communities of greatest risk.