Get access

Concern About Petrochemical Health Risk Before and After a Refinery Explosion

Authors

  • Malcolm P. Cutchin,

    Corresponding author
      *Address correspondence to Malcolm P. Cutchin, Division of Occupational Science, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7122, USA; tel: 919-843-4472; fax: 919-966-9007; mcutchin@med.unc.edu.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • 1

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences, NC, USA.

    • 2

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute on Aging, NC, USA.

  • Kathryn Remmes Martin,

    Search for more papers by this author
    • 2

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute on Aging, NC, USA.

    • 3

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, NC, USA.

  • Steven V. Owen,

    Search for more papers by this author
    • 4

      University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, San Antonio, TX, USA.

  • James S. Goodwin

    Search for more papers by this author
    • 5

      University of Texas Medical Branch, School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Galveston, TX, USA.

    • 6

      University of Texas Medical Branch, Sealy Center on Aging, Galveston, TX, USA.


*Address correspondence to Malcolm P. Cutchin, Division of Occupational Science, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7122, USA; tel: 919-843-4472; fax: 919-966-9007; mcutchin@med.unc.edu.

Abstract

On March 23, 2005, a large explosion at an oil refinery in Texas City, Texas caused 15 deaths and approximately 170 injuries. Little is known about how such an industrial accident influences concern about environmental health risks. We used measures of environmental health concern about nearby petrochemical production with a sample of Texas City residents to understand patterns of concern and change in concern after an industrial accident, as well as individual and contextual factors associated with those patterns. Survey interviews with residents of Texas City, Texas (N= 315) both pre- and postexplosion using a brief Concern About Petrochemical Health Risk Scale (CAPHRS) and other questions were used to collect pertinent predictor information. CAPHRS baseline, postexplosion, and change scores were compared and modeled using ordinary least squares (OLS) regression and a mixed model. Higher preexplosion CAPHRS scores were predicted by younger adults, foreign-born Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks, lower- and middle-income groups, and those who live with someone who has worked at the petrochemical plants. Higher CAPHRS change scores are predicted by the same variables (except income), as well as proximity to, or perception of, the explosion, and reports of neighborhood damage. Findings suggest these groups' concern scores could indicate a greater vulnerability to psychological and physical harm generated by concern and stress arising from local petrochemical activities. A clearer understanding of concern about actual environmental health risks in exposed populations may enhance the evolving theory of stress and coping and eventually enable public health professionals to develop appropriate mitigation strategies.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary