Air Pollution Exposure Greater for Minorities

A new report titled National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality, indicates a disparity in exposure to air pollution, specifically nitrous oxide exposure, among nonwhites compared to whites.  This disparity is greater between nonwhites and whites than it is between people from contrasting economic backgrounds.  Youth and elderly nonwhites are particularly at risk.  Key findings from the report are as follows:

  • Urban outdoor air pollution is one of the leading causes of death in nations with stronger economies
  • Concentrations of nitrous oxide are greater in 87.5% of nonwhite groups studied than groups of whites studied for this report
  • With intervention, about 7,000 annual deaths related to nitrous oxide induced heart disease could be reduce
    • For comparison, an intervention with a similar benefit would be 3.2 million fewer adults (age 30–44) beginning smoking

Authors of the article say disparity in nitrous oxide exposures among minorities is a public health concern and it is a matter of environmental injustice that requires attention.


Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School



More Americans Get Covered in States Embracing ACA

According to the Gallup poll released yesterday, the uninsured rate is dropping faster in states that have fully embraced the Affordable Care Act.  The uninsured rate among adults 18 years and older in the 21 states (including Washington, DC) that set up their own healthcare exchanges and expanded Medicaid, have dropped 2.5%.  The 29 states who choose not to expand Medicaid and/or not to set up healthcare exchanges only declined 0.8%.



Click here to learn more about Medicaid Expansion in the politically conservative Deep South.

Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center

EVENT: Arkansas Minority Health Summit- April 18th


Date: Friday, April 18, 2014
Time: 8:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Join public health leaders from around the country for a full day of activities designed to provide learning opportunities about new and emerging trends focused on health equity for minority communities in Arkansas.
Be in attendance as we release the results of a new UAMS study, funded by the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, that suggests that eliminating health disparities for Arkansas minorities would have resulted in a reduction of direct medical care expenditures of $518.60 million in 2010. In this study, AMHC and UAMS sought to estimate the economic impact of racial and ethnic disparities in Arkansas.
Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center

Are you really healthy? Disparity in self-rated and physical health



What can be said of perceptions around being healthy in the African American community? A new study published in the journal Ethnicity & Disease showed a discrepancy between self-rated health and physical health in the African American community. The study analyzed data retrieved from 1,200 individuals in the Faith, Activity and Nutrition program. This program propagates healthy living, like eating fruits and vegetables and regularly exercising, in members of 74 churches across South Carolina.

Some key findings of the study include:

  •  Participants who rated their health with high marks were less likely to have high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis. There were also more likely to be physically active and to eat healthy.
  • Surprisingly, many individuals who rated their health high had several chronic diseases.
  • The authors stated, “A lot of people had hypertension and obesity, and they really didn’t engage in healthy behaviors, but they still rated their own health as good to excellent.” 


Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

SAVE THE DATE! Minority Health Twitter Chat April 23 @ 1PM ET


REACH Minority National Organizations Twitter Chat

As part of National Minority Health Month, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies will host a Twitter chat on Wednesday, April 23, at 1:00pm EST to engage and educate key stakeholders on strategies that alleviate chronic disease disparities. The chat will feature the six REACH Minority National Organizations (MNO), including Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and  Leadership (APPEAL), Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE), Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Black Women’s Health Imperative, and National Council of La Raza (NCLR). REACH is a national initiative vital to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health.

The theme of National Minority Health Month is “Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity”. It emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities. It is a call to action, a charge for all of us to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities. Twitter makes it easy for you to get involved in the conversation. Just include #REACHMNO in your tweet and follow:

Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: @Jointcenter



Black Women’s Health Imperative: @blkwomenshealth



Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center

Stressful environments have genetic implications for African American boys

A study conducted at Princeton University has shown there is a link between the social environment and health.   African American boys who grow up in disadvantaged communities are more likely to have shorter telomeres, a section of DNA that shrinks with age, compared to their advantaged peers. Telomeres protect the end of chromosomes from damage and have major implications for aging and stress.


Half of the boys in the sample were characterized to be from disadvantaged communities. The criterion for this characterization were low maternal education, low household income, unstable household structure, and harsh parenting.

Some key findings of the study are:

  • There is a relationship between genes and the social environment.
  • Growing up in a disadvantaged community was linked to shorter telomeres.
  • 19% shorter telomeres in boys who lived in disadvantaged communities compared to those in advantaged communities.

Adedotun Ogunbajo, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health


Toolkit for Community Action to End Health Disparities


The National Partnership for Action To End Health Disparities was developed with the mission of mobilizing and connecting individuals and organizations across the country to create a nation in which all people have a chance to reach their full health potential. This National Partnership for Action: Toolkit for Community Action will help individuals, communities and organizations from the public and private sectors work together to implement programs and policies and engage with the NPA to reach that goal.

Joint Center report, The Economic Burden of Health Inequalities in the United Statesand Joint Center Vice President and Director Dr. Brian Smedley’s report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Careare listed as resources in the Toolkit.

Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist for the Joint Center

Joint Center Partners with C&NN to Address Racial Inequities in Access to Green Space


The Joint Center today announced the formation of a strategic partnership with the Joint Center’s Place Matters Initiative and The Children & Nature Network (C&NN), to improve the health outcomes for all communities by using the knowledge and expertise of each organization’s network of community leaders to promote access to green space.

The goals of this new partnership will be threefold:

  1. Foster peer-to-peer learning between the Joint Center and C&NN’s networks, with each network teaching the other their respective strengths:  C&NN networks will share how to best connect communities with nature, and Place Matters teams will share ways to understand the underlying conditions that shape health and promote equity.
  2. Develop and institute a Place Matters Natural Leaders Fellowship, dedicated to building the capacity of diverse young leaders to both share the outdoor world with their community while learning about the conditions and forces that shape them.
  3. Convene local and national leaders to examine the intersections of nature, equity, and social justice and health, to develop a shared policy agenda that supports nature and health for all.

Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center

Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders face challenges in healthcare, housing security, and employment


(credit: Asian Americans Advancing Justice)

The Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community is among one the fastest growing populations within the United States. Similar to African American and Latino communities, AANHPI community also has disparities in healthcare, employment, and house security. AANHPI is a community of different cultures, ethnicities, languages, and backgrounds. Thus, current and future policies and programs must be improved upon and/or developed to address the needs of this diverse population.

In a recent report from Asian Americans Advancing Justice, AANHPI communities in the Northeast face barriers in accessing healthcare, achieving housing security, and attaining meaningful jobs.
Key findings:
  • Disproportionately impacted by disease (diabetes, liver and bile cancer, TB, Hep B) and face barriers to accessing care (high uninsured rate, least likely of all racial groups to have regular checkup)
  • Between 2007-2011, the number of Asian Americans living below the poverty line grew 52% in Philadelphia and 32% in the New York MSA
  • Barriers to achieving housing security: 37% of Bangladeshi American households in the New York MSA, 34% of Cambodian American households in Philadelphia, and 32% of Vietnamese American households in Boston are severely rent burdened, spending 50% or more of their incomes on rent
  • Outreach and educate Asian American and NHPI communities about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act so they can benefit from the expanded availability of health insurance 
  • Preserve and expand access to social safety-net programs and invest in culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to growing immigrant communities
  •  Federal, state, and local agencies and the private sector should expand affordable housing and home ownership opportunities

Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health