Published in Statistics Views
Author: Lillian Pierson, P.E.
Since the dawn of time there’s been the haves and the have nots. Their stories precede them. While the moral and ethical viewpoints about economic disparity clash and rage, quietly in the backdrop, scientists are uncovering deeper truths about the extent to which we’re all affected.
Last year, researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK published a study that revealed a significant correlation between socio-economic status, body chemistry, and environmental exposure to harmful toxins. What they found is that the body of the average poor person has higher concentrations of lead, cadmium, and plastics, thought to be due to poor diet and a greater tendency for cigarette smoking among the poor. In contrast, rich people tend to have higher body chemistry concentrations of mercury, arsenic, and benzophenone-3, thought due to their greater consumption of shellfish and seafood, and the prevalent use of sunscreen among the middle-upper class. The study also confirmed what we’ve all known for quite some time, that chronic long-term exposure to chemical toxins usually causes adverse health effects.
But how, exactly, is our health affected? This question is central to the work of spatio-temporal epidemiologist, Dr. Pierre Goovaerts. Dr. Goovaerts is an established and long-respected leader in the fields of geostatistics and soil science, but he’s recently made a debut in the spatio-temporal epidemiology arena as well. Behind this recent career transition Goovaerts explains, “After 15 years devoted to the application of geostatistics to the characterization of contaminated sites, it seemed logical to wonder about the impact of this contamination on human health. After all, concern about human health should be one of the main drivers guiding the characterization and remediation of these sites.”