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New Research Finds Associations Between Historical Redlining and Present-Day Heat Vulnerability in Philadelphia

Map from early 1900's of redlining in Philadelphia

February 4, 2022

A newly published paper by researchers at the Dornsife School of Public Health (DSPH) examines associations between historical redlining and present-day housing and land cover characteristics that may enhance vulnerability to ambient heat in Philadelphia.


Extreme heat represents an important public health concern within cities, as high ambient temperatures are associated with increased risk of mortality and other adverse health outcomes. Variations in heat- vulnerability may be related to microclimates within cities, created by built environment characteristics, such as vegetation and tree canopy or poor housing, which might also vary along sociodemographic lines.


Researchers found that historical, institutional racism within the housing market may have impacted present-day disparities in heat vulnerability. They quantified associations between historically redlined areas with present-day property and housing characteristics that may enhance heat vulnerability in the city.


This research was led by Leah Schinasi, PhD, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at DSPH, and co-authored by Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and director of The Ubuntu Center on Racism, Global Movements, and Population Health Equity at DSPH; Zachary Christman, associate professor and GIS director in the Geography, Planning, and Sustainability Department at Rowan University; Irene Headen, PhD, MS, assistant professor of community health and prevention at DSPH; Chahita Kanungo, MPH, a recent graduate of the department of Environmental & Occupational Health at DSPH; and Loni Phillip Tabb, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at DSPH.


This research was published in the Journal of Urban Health on January 25, 2022.


Read the full paper