Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 661–676 | Cite as

Associations of Neighborhood Concentrated Poverty, Neighborhood Racial/Ethnic Composition, and Indoor Allergen Exposures: a Cross-Sectional Analysis of Los Angeles Households, 2006–2008

  • Marlene Camacho-Rivera
  • Ichiro Kawachi
  • Gary G Bennett
  • S. V. SubramanianEmail author


Although racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and neighborhood factors have been linked to asthma, and the association between indoor allergens and asthma is well documented, few studies have examined the relationship between these factors and indoor allergens. We examined the frequency of reported indoor allergens and differences by racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and neighborhood characteristics among a diverse sample of Los Angeles households. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to analyze the data from 723 households from wave 2 of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey. The reported presence of rats, mice, cockroaches, mold, pets, and tobacco smoke were the primary outcomes of interest. Hispanic and Asian households had a nearly threefold increase in the odds of reporting cockroaches compared to non-Hispanic Whites (OR, 2.85; 95 % CI 1.38–5.88 and OR, 2.62; 95 % CI 1.02–6.73, respectively) even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors. Primary caregivers who had obtained a high school degree were significantly less likely to report the presence of mice and cockroaches compared to primary caregivers with less than a high school degree (OR, 0.19; 95 % CI 0.08–0.46 and OR, 0.39; 95 % CI 0.23–0.68, respectively). Primary caregivers with more than a high school degree were also less likely to report the presence of rats, mice, and cockroaches within their households, compared to those with less than a high school degree. Compared to renters, home owners were less likely to report the presence of mice, cockroaches, and mold within their households. At the neighborhood level, households located within neighborhoods of high concentrated poverty (where the average poverty rate is at least 50 %) were more likely to report the presence of mice and cockroaches compared to households in low concentrated poverty neighborhoods (average poverty rate is 10 % or less), after adjusting for individual race/ethnicity and socioeconomic characteristics. Our study found evidence in support of neighborhood-level racial/ethnic and socioeconomic influences on indoor allergen exposure, above and beyond individual factors. Future studies should continue to explore individual and neighborhood-level racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in household allergen exposures across diverse contexts.


Neighborhood characteristics Indoor allergens Multilevel models Children Asthma Los Angeles 



This research is supported by a National Institutes of Health Career Development Award (NHLBI K25 HL081275). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute had no further role in study design, data collection, analysis, or interpretation in the writing of the report, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. We would also like to thank RAND Corporation for allowing the use of L.A.FANS data.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marlene Camacho-Rivera
    • 1
  • Ichiro Kawachi
    • 2
  • Gary G Bennett
    • 3
  • S. V. Subramanian
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Population HealthNorth Shore-Long Island Jewish Health SystemGreat NeckUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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