Generation of the Chemical and Social Stressors Integration Technique (CASS-IT) to Identify Areas of Holistic Public Health Concern: An Application to North Carolina

27 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2022

See all articles by Lauren A. Eaves

Lauren A. Eaves

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health

Paul Lanier

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Social Work

Adam E. Enggasser

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health

Gerard Chung

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Social Work

Toby Turla

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health

Julia E. Rager

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health

Rebecca C. Fry

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health

Abstract

Due to structural racism and income inequality, exposure to environmental chemicals is tightly linked to socioeconomic factors, including race and income. In addition, exposure to psychosocial stressors, such as racial discrimination, as well as having limited resources, can increase susceptibility to environmentally induced disease. Yet, studies are often conducted separately in fields of social science and environmental science, reducing the potential for holistic risk estimates. To tackle this gap, we developed the Chemical and Social Stressors Integration Technique (CASS-IT) to integrate environmental chemical and social stressor datasets. The CASS-IT provides an analytical workflow to identify distinct geographic areas based on combinations of environmental chemical exposure, social vulnerability, and access to resources. It incorporates two data dimension reduction tools: k-means clustering and latent profile analysis. Here, the CASS-IT was applied to North Carolina (NC) as a case study. Environmental chemical data included toxic metals – arsenic, manganese, and lead – in private drinking well water. Social stressor data was captured by the CDC’s social vulnerability index’s four domains: socioeconomic status, household composition and disability, minority status and language, and housing type and transportation. Data on resources were derived from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA’s) Resilience and Analysis Planning Tool, which generated measures of health resources, social resources, and information resources. The results highlighted 31 NC counties where exposure to both toxic metals and social stressors are elevated, and health resources are minimal; these are counties in which environmental justice is of utmost concern. In future research, the CASS-IT can be used to analyze United-States wide environmental datasets providing guidance for targeted public health interventions and reducing environmental disparities.

Keywords: Clustering, metals, private wells, social vulnerability, geographic data

Suggested Citation

Eaves, Lauren A. and Lanier, Paul and Enggasser, Adam E. and Chung, Gerard and Turla, Toby and Rager, Julia E. and Fry, Rebecca C., Generation of the Chemical and Social Stressors Integration Technique (CASS-IT) to Identify Areas of Holistic Public Health Concern: An Application to North Carolina. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4161726 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4161726

Lauren A. Eaves

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health ( email )

Paul Lanier

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Social Work ( email )

Adam E. Enggasser

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health ( email )

Gerard Chung

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Social Work ( email )

Toby Turla

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health ( email )

Julia E. Rager

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health ( email )

Rebecca C. Fry (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Gillings School of Global Public Health ( email )

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