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ISRN Public Health
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 251201, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/251201
Research Article

Associations of the Burden of Coal Abandoned Mine Lands with Three Dimensions of Community Context in Pennsylvania

1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
2Department of Biostatistics, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
3Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
4Center for Health Research, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA 17822, USA

Received 13 February 2012; Accepted 29 February 2012

Academic Editors: H. B. Bueno-de-Mesquita and I. Szadkowska-Stanczyk

Copyright © 2012 Ann Y. Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Pennsylvania, with thousands of abandoned coal mines and miles of streams polluted with acid mine drainage, has the largest domestic coal mining burden contributing to deterioration of communities. Objectives. To evaluate contextual aspects by examining associations between coal abandoned mine lands (AML) and community measures of socioeconomic deprivation, social disorganization, and physical disorder. Methods. AML exposure data from the Reclaimed Abandoned Mine Land Inventory System were used to create density, diversity, accessibility, and clustering metrics. The three community context outcome measures were comprised of 14 census variables. In community-level analyses, 10 AML variables were evaluated separately with each dimension of community context, adjusting for covariates, in communities with and without abandoned mines. Results. We observed consistent associations between higher AML burden and worse socioeconomic deprivation, negative relations with social disorganization, but no statistically significant associations with physical disorder. Six of 10 AML variables were associated with socioeconomic deprivation, many consistently exhibiting exposure-effect patterns of worse deprivation with greater AML. Conclusions. Higher AML was associated with higher socioeconomic deprivation. These results can help prioritize the use of Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act funds and inform decisions regarding Marcellus shale drilling to prevent analogous environmental degradation and public health impacts.