Minority Health and Health Disparities Research

D Pop

Understanding environmental health disparities for older persons is critical given that they can be more affected by environmental and socioeconomic status (SES) factors due to baseline health, changing metabolism, or larger cumulative exposures. Harmful environmental exposures, such as air pollution, often occur in communities facing SES stressors including deteriorating housing, poor access to health care, high unemployment, crime, and poverty, which may exacerbate negative health effects.

The long-term objective of this project is to investigate, in collaboration with Michelle L. Bell’s team at Yale University, how environmental and SES factors, which represent modifiable risks, can jointly contribute to health disparities in the older population. The research team considers disparities in two separate but related forms:

  1. Differences in exposures (e.g., pollution levels) to environmental and SES factors 
  2. Differences in health response (e.g., relative risk) from exposures to environmental and SES factors

Analyses will identify the most effective foci for intervention and policy engagement by identifying the most significant common contributors to environmental health disparities for the elderly with the goal of promoting healthier lives. Findings will also inform future work on which specific subpopulations, pollutants, and SES factors are most relevant for environmental health disparities for the elderly.