The Air is Always Cleaner on the Other Side: Race, Space, and Ambient Air Toxics Exposures in California


* Manuel Pastor, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, Merrill College, Santa Cruz, CA 95064. E-mail:


Abstract: Environmental justice advocates have recently focused attention on cumulative exposure in minority neighborhoods due to multiple sources of pollution. This article uses U.S. EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) for 1996 to examine environmental inequality in California, a state that has been a recent innovator in environmental justice policy. We first estimate potential lifetime cancer risks from mobile and stationary sources. We then consider the distribution of these risks using both simple comparisons and a multivariate model in which we control for income, land use, and other explanatory factors, as well as spatial correlation. We find large racial disparities in California's “riskscape” as well as inequalities by other factors and suggest several implications for environmental and land use policy.