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A vacant rowhouse in Baltimore. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan has spent almost a year exploring the wide health disparities within different neighborhoods of Baltimore — one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States.

By the numbers: Life expectancies are 20 years shorter in Baltimore’s poorer, mostly African American neighborhoods than in wealthier, predominantly white areas.

The details: There’s not much evidence those disparities are genetic. Instead, they are largely the side effects of engrained discrimination, especially in housing.

  • Abandoned buildings feed public-health nuisances. Allergic reactions to mice are the leading environmental factor in the roughly 5,000 trips Baltimore children make to the emergency room each year for asthma attacks.
  • In the ‘90s, up to 70% of kids in some Baltimore neighborhoods had been exposed to lead paint.
  • Studies show that African Americans get less sleep than white people, on average, and exhibit more “stress-related wear and tear,” all of which contributes to serious health conditions and shorter lifespans.
  • There are fewer supermarkets in poor neighborhoods, and more fast-food chains.

The bottom line: Health research is increasingly aware of, and focused on, the “social determinants of health” — things like access to housing, community services and transportation, that affect our health even though we think of them as separate from the health care system. And it’s hard to ignore the acute racial disparities in many of those factors.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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