Environmental justice in Ontario: an investigation of ambient benzene pollution and environmental inequality in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

Authors: Sophie Roussy*, University of Toronto Mississauga, Matthew Adams, University of Toronto Mississauga
Topics: Physical Geography, Environmental Justice, Health and Medical
Keywords: Air Pollution Modelling, Chemical Analysis, Environmental Health, Environmental Inequality, Environmental Justice, Epidemiological Dose-Response Curves, Exposure Assessment, Land Use Regression, Passive Air Pollution Monitoring, Spatial Analysis
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 6
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Exposure to transportation-related air pollution (TRAP) is of concern in Canada because of the associated adverse health outcomes, all of which contribute to elevated mortality rates among Canadians. When assessing exposure, it is essential to consider environmental inequality - a phenomenon in which specific populations, typically disadvantaged or minority populations, are disproportionality burdened with greater environmentally-driven stressors and related health outcomes. Environmental inequality exposure research is limited in Canada. Also, most research on TRAP exposure has focused on Criteria Air Pollutants, despite recent reports of elevated concentrations of ambient benzene for many Canadian cities, a component of gasoline and a Group 1 carcinogen. I will use passive monitoring techniques, chemical analysis, and land use regression models to characterize and model the spatial distribution of benzene and commonly measured transportation-related air pollutants in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). I will then use spatial autoregressive models to examine associations between the modelled TRAP concentrations and population-specific sociocultural and socioeconomic characteristics (obtained from Statistics Canada) of dissemination areas in the GTHA, thereby identifying the social determinants of health influencing disparities in human exposure to ambient benzene. Lastly, existing health disparities, based on socioeconomic/cultural status, will be assessed using established dose-response curves. My research will develop the first high-resolution exposure risk estimates of benzene air pollution for the 6.9 million people who live in the GTHA, in addition to heading environmental inequality exposure research in Canada related to ambient benzene pollution.

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