People of color and lower socioeconomic status groups in the USA, including those of Mexican origin, are exposed to higher concentrations of air pollution, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Associations were examined between neighborhood air pollution levels and the psychosocial and demographic characteristics of linguistically isolated Mexican-origin immigrant families. Housing mobility and changes in air pollution levels due to changes in residence were also examined.
A sample of 604 linguistically isolated Mexican-origin families in central TX provided data on demographic and psychosocial experiences. Outdoor air pollution concentrations at participants’ home addresses were based on high-resolution estimates of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and its constituents. Movers were identified as families whose residential addresses changed during the study period; these participants were further grouped and compared based on the change in their residential PM2.5 concentration from before to after their move.
Lower PM2.5 concentrations were associated with reports of more ethnic discriminatory experiences, higher socioeconomic status, and higher perceived neighborhood safety. Among the 23% of families who changed residences, PM2.5 concentrations were generally lower at the new family address. Families with mothers reporting a greater sense of neighborhood safety or acculturation levels tended to move from one area low in air pollutants to another, and mothers reporting the lowest levels of neighborhood safety or acculturation tended to move from one area high in air pollutants to another.
There are limits to assimilation for Mexican immigrant families. Living in more advantaged neighborhoods is associated with experiencing better air quality, but this advantage may come at the cost of experiencing more ethnic discrimination.