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Individual Highlight

Air Pollution as a Psychosocial Stressor

Photo of Emissions from a waterside facility, contributing to air pollution. USDA Forest ServiceEmissions from a waterside facility, contributing to air pollution. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : A Forest Service scientist and her research partners found that air pollution contributes to physical and psychosocial conditions that act as community-level social stressors.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kondo, Ph.D., Michelle 
Research Location : Philadelphia
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 604

Summary

Exposure to air pollution and its sources is increasingly viewed as a psychosocial stress, but its nature is not well understood. A Forest Service scientist, with partners from Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania and organizations in South Philadelphia, explored the role of the concept of "place" on risk perception and community stress within data collected from eight focus groups in Philadelphia, Penn. Discussions focused on air pollution, a nearby oil refinery, health, and a proposal for air monitoring. The framework of place-based elements of risk perception includes place identity, stigma, and social control. The findings indicate that air pollution contributes to physical and psychosocial conditions that act as community-level social stressors. Findings also suggest programs that seek to change behaviors and gather or spread information on issues such as pollution and other environmental concerns will be challenged unless they directly address: (1) the public's identification with a place or industry; (2) immediate environmental stressors such as abandonment, waste, and odors; and (3) public perceptions of lack of social control and fear of displacement.