The importance of spatial effects for environmental health policy and research

Ken Sexton, Lance A. Waller, Robert B Mc Master, George Maldonado, John L. Adgate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Issues of spatial scale and resolution are intrinsic to efforts aimed at protecting and improving environmental health. Deciding on an appropriate policy or selecting a suitable research design implies a decision, either implicit or explicit, about spatial scale and resolution. This article looks at issues in the context of environmental health, reviews crucial problems and questions, and examines examples of spatial effects on analytical results related to causal inference, disease clustering, and analysis and interpretation of census data. The discussion focuses on the need to consider spatial issues as a key component of informed, well- reasoned decisions about safeguarding environmental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-125
Number of pages17
JournalHuman and Ecological Risk Assessment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K. Sexton and J. L. Adgate were partially supported by U.S. EPA Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants R825241, R825813, and R826789.


  • Environmental health
  • Environmental health policy
  • Environmental health research
  • Geographic scale
  • Modifiable areal unit problem
  • Spatial boundary
  • Spatial resolution
  • Spatial scale


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