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June 17, 2016


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Noel, you know the South Bronx is the worst place in the city for respiratory illnesses like asthma, right?

I do! But two things. First, the etiology isn't well-explained except at the household level. (And "explained" isn't the same as "understood"!) There are clear linkages to air pollution, but even there the household differences persist. Geographically, you can see it in the way childhood asthma on the East Side suddenly plunges south of 96th Street -- but air quality at 104th is no different than a mile south on 84th. Similarly, asthma indices have risen even as air pollution has declined.

That's not to say the risk isn't real! It's just to say that I'm unsure that you're capturing a neighborhood effect, as opposed to a household effect. (By household effect, I mean a pernicious combination of poverty and discrimination. Frex, http://grist.org/cities/in-new-york-citys-black-neighborhoods-poverty-housing-issues-and-asthma-go-together/.)

Second, this would be an investment; Amma and I have jobs in D.C. and our block is awesome. So even if there are greater neighborhood-level risk factors for our children, they're not currently relevant.

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