Population and Environment

, Volume 30, Issue 1–2, pp 3–25 | Cite as

Proximate industrial activity and psychological distress

  • Jason D. Boardman
  • Liam Downey
  • James S. Jackson
  • J. Bryce Merrill
  • Jarron M. Saint Onge
  • David R. Williams
Original Paper


This paper examines the role that gender, occupational status, and family status play in moderating the effect of industrial activity on the psychological well-being of nearby residents. Using a unique spatial assessment of industrial activity and an environmental risk/social stressor framework in conjunction with individual-level data from the Detroit Area Study (DAS) and demographic data from the U.S. census, we find that residents of neighborhoods in close proximity to industrial activity report elevated levels of psychological distress compared to residents of neighborhoods removed from this type of activity. These influences are more pronounced among women but gender differences are also contingent upon occupational and family statuses. We show that specific combinations of work and family statuses make persons particularly vulnerable to the influence of this environmental stressor and women are two and a half times more likely than men to have these vulnerable statuses. This study makes an important contribution to the environmental health literature because it reminds researchers of the fundamental influence of social roles when examining the link between environmental risks and mental health.


Neighborhood Psychological distress Stress Pollution 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason D. Boardman
    • 1
  • Liam Downey
    • 1
  • James S. Jackson
    • 2
  • J. Bryce Merrill
    • 3
  • Jarron M. Saint Onge
    • 4
  • David R. Williams
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Population Program, Institute of Behavioral ScienceUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyInstitute of Behavioral Science, University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  4. 4.University of HoustonHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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