Manufacturing Decline and Environmental Inequality: Metropolitan Disparities in Industrial Air Pollution in the United States

Kevin Smiley

Disparities across metropolitan areas in chemical emissions are extensive, and not well understood. To better investigate these inter-urban inequalities, I showcase how the changing manufacturing economy relates to the production of industrial pollution. Using data on health risks from industrial air pollution in 1990, 2000, and 2010. I test to see if an indicator of change in the number of manufacturing workers in a metropolitan area from 1970 to each of the three study years is associated with greater health risks. Although a greater proportion of the population in manufacturing work in a given year is strongly linked to more toxic air in a metropolitan area, the evidence also shows that metropolitan areas that have experience a manufacturing decline since 1970 are especially associated with more toxic air. Implications focus on how the indelible imprint of manufacturing history may condition contemporary pollution levels.


 Presented in Session 3. Population, Development, & the Environment; Data & Methods; Applied Demography