Rachel Morello-Frosch


Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch was one of the researchers for this study.


  • PhD  Environmental Health Science, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley
  • MPH Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of California, Berkeley
  • B.S.   Development Studies    University of California, Berkeley

Research Interests

Race and class determinants of the distribution of health risks associated with air pollution among diverse communities in the United States.

Research Description

My research focuses on environmental health and environmental justice. I am particularly interested in addressing the double jeopardy faced by communities of color and the poor who experience high exposures to environmental hazards and who are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of pollution due to poverty, malnutrition, discrimination, and underlying health conditions. How do matters of race and class affect distributions of health risks in the United States? What are the causes and consequences of environmental disparities and health inequalities? How can research create "upstream" opportunities for intervention and prevention? I am also interested in evaluating the influence of community participation on environmental health research, science, regulation, and policy-making, as well as in developing methods to foster community-based participatory research.

Current Projects

Understanding & Addressing Cumulative Impacts on California Communities

This project develops scientifically valid and publicly transparent analytical methods to identify disparities in environmental hazard exposures and health status for key population groups identified by race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, and other vulnerability indicators to inform regulatory decision-making and environmental policy.

Environmental Justice & Climate Change

This project convenes advocates and researchers to assess the disparate impact of climate change on communities of color and the poor with a focus on the following issues: (1) health and economic impacts of extreme weather events; (2) environmental justice and social equity implications of proposed greenhouse gas reduction strategies in California associated with the AB32 Scoping Plan; and (3) disparities in community capacity to adapt to environmental impacts of climate change.

Building a Regional Voice for Environmental Health & Justice in Southern CA

This community-academic collaboration combines economic and environmental health research, policy advocacy, and public education and organizing to improve environmental health in low-income communities of color in Southern California.

Integrating Measures of Cumulative Impact and Community-Level Vulnerability

This project studies the relationship between adverse birth outcomes and traffic density in California and how individual and neighborhood-level measures of vulnerability may amplify the toxic impacts of pollution exposures.

Merging Breast Cancer and Environmental Justice

This project examines issues of environmental justice through a study of household exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer in Richmond and Bolinas, California.

Air Pollution and Environmental Justice

This project has several goals: (1) to examine from the perspective of environmental equity the impacts of industrial, commercial, and transportation land use on specific neighborhoods; (2) to develop indicators of the cumulative impact of exposures and the relative vulnerability of various communities that can be used in regulatory decision-making and enforcement; and (3) to address data needs identified in the Cal/EPA EJ Advisory Committee Recommendations Report.

Disaster, Resilience, and the Built Environment on the Gulf Coast

This interdisciplinary project examines the resilience of the ecological and built environments in Gulf Coast communities, both urban and rural, that endure chronic wind and water damage from hurricanes.


Breast Cancer Action
Communities for a Better Environment
Environmental Leadership Program
Grist Magazine
Silent Spring Institute Breast Cancer Fund


Julia Brody & Ruthann Rudel
Phil Brown
Alastair Iles
Manuel Pastor
James Sadd
Tracey Woodruff

Selected Publications

Book & Selected Chapters

Morello-Frosch R, Brown P (2014) “Science, Social Justice and Post-Belmont Research Ethics: Implications for Regulation and Environmental Health Science.”  In:  Science and Technology Studies Handbook, Daniel Kleinman and Kelly Moore, eds.

Brown P, Morello-Frosch R, Zavestoski S (2011) Contested Illnesses: Citizens, Science and Health Social Movements. University of California Press, Berkeley CA.

Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd J, Prichard M, Matsuoka M (2012).  “Citizens, Science and Data Judo:  Leveraging Secondary Data Analysis to Build a Community-Academic Collaborative for Environmental Justice in Southern California.”  In Methods for Conducting Community-Based Participatory Research in Public Health, Second Edition.  Barbara Israel, Eugenia Eng, Amy Shultz, Edith Parker, eds. University of Michigan, Jossey-Bass Press

Morello-Frosch R, Brown P, Brody JG, Altman RG, Rudel RA, Zota AR, Pérez C (2011). “Experts, Ethics, and Environmental Justice:  Communicating and Contesting Results from Personal Exposure Science.”  In:  Environmental Justice and the Transformation of Science and Engineering, Gwen Ottinger, Benjamin Cohen eds, MIT Press.

Morello-Frosch R, Zavestoski S, Brown P, McCormick S, Mayer B, Gasior R. “Social Movements in Health: Responses to and Shapers of a Changed Medical World.”  In The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power.  Kelly Moore and Scott Frickel, eds.  Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. (2006).

Selected articles

Morello-Frosch R, Varshavsky J, Liboiron M, Brown P, Brody J. The Challenge of Communicating Results in Post-Belmont Era Biomonitoring Studies:  Lessons from Genetics, Biobanking, and Brain Imaging Research. Environmental Research, Forthcoming, 2015.

Cushing L, Morello-Frosch R, Wander M, Pastor M .The Haves, the Have-nots and the Health of Everyone: The Relationship Between Social Inequality and Environmental Quality.  Annual Review of Public Health. Forthcoming, 2015.

Pastor M, Morello-Frosch R Integrating Public Health, Community Development and Civic Engagement to Tackle Neighborhood Distress and Promote Community Well-being. Health Affairs, Forthcoming, 2015.

Zota A, Shenassa E, Morello-Frosch R. (2013) Does allostatic load modify the association between lead exposure and risk of hypertension?  Environmental Health 2(1):64 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-64.

Jesdale B, Morello-Frosch R, Cushing L (2013) The Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Heat Risk-Related Land Cover in Relation to Residential Segregation. Environmental Health Perspectives. 121:811–817

Balazs C, Morello-Frosch R, Hubbard AE, Ray I (2012). Environmental justice implications of arsenic contamination: regression analyses of exposure and compliance in community drinking water systems in California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Environmental Health

Holstius DM, Reid CE, Jesdale BM, Morello-Frosch R (2012). Birth Weight Following Pregnancy During the 2003 Southern California Wildfires. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.1104515

Shonkoff S, Morello-Frosch R, Pastor M, Sadd JL (2012).  “The climate gap:  Environmental health and equity implications of climate change and mitigation policies in California- a review of the literature.”  Climatic Change, 109(1): 485-503.

Morello-Frosch R, Zuk M, Jerrett M, Shamasunder B, Kyle AD. (2011)  “Understanding the cumulative impacts of inequalities in environmental health.”  Health Affairs, 30(5):879-887.

Hall L, Iles A, Morello-Frosch R  (2012) “Litigating Toxic Risks Ahead of Regulation:  Biomonitoring Science in the Courtroom.” Stanford Environmental Law Journal, 31(1):3-47.

Balazs C, Morello-Frosch R, Hubbard A, Ray I (2011) “Social Disparities in Nitrate Contaminated Drinking Water in California’s San Joaquin Valley.” Environmental Health Perspectives. Published ahead of print -. Available at:  doi:10.1289/ehp.1002878

Sadd JL, Pastor M, Morello-Frosch R, Scoggins J, Jesdale B (2011):  “Playing It Safe: Assessing Cumulative Impact and Social Vulnerability through an Environmental Justice Screening Method in the South Coast Air Basin, California.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 8: 1441-1459.

Morello-Frosch R, Jesdale B, Sadd J, Pastor M (2010) “Ambient Air Pollution Exposure and Risk of Low Birth Weight in California.”  Environmental Health. 9: 44 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-9-44

Morello-Frosch R, Brody JG, Brown P, Altman RG, Rudel R, Perez C “Toxic ignorance and right-to-know in biomonitoring results communication: a survey of scientists and study participants.” Environmental Health, 2009 Feb 28, 8:6.

Su J, Morello-Frosch R, Jesdale B, Kyle A, Jerrett M “An index for assessing cumulative environmental hazard inequalities to socioeconomic and racial-ethnic measures with application to Los Angeles County,” Environmental Science and Technology,2009, 43(20): 7626-34.

Zota AR, Rudel RA, Morello-Frosch R, Brody JG “Elevated House Dust and Serum Concentrations of PBDEs in California: Unintended Consequences of Furniture Flammability Standards?”  Environmental Science and Technology, 2008, 42(21):8158-64

Altman R, Morello-Frosch R, Brody J, Rudel R , Brown P, Averick M:  “Pollution Comes Home and Gets Personal: Cape Cod Women’s Experiences of Household Toxic Exposure.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 2008 49(4):417-35

Morello-Frosch R and Lopez, R: "The Riskscape and the Colorline: Examining the Role of Segregation in Environmental Health Disparities," Environmental Research, 2006 102(2): 181-196.

Morello-Frosch R and Shenassa, E: "The Environmental 'Riskscape' and Social Inequality: Implications for Explaining Maternal and Child Health Disparities." Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006, 114 (8):1150-1153.

Morello-Frosch R and Jesdale, B: "Separate and Unequal: Residential Segregation and Air Quality in the Metropolitan U.S." Environmental Health Perspectives 2006, 113: 386-393.

Pastor M, Morello-Frosch, R, Sadd J: "Breathless: Air Quality, Schools, and Environmental Justice in California." Policy Studies Journal, 2006, 34 (3): 337-362.

Greene A, Morello-Frosch R, Shenassa E: "Inadequate Prenatal Care and Elevated Blood Lead Levels Among Children Born in Providence, Rhode Island: A Population-Based Study." Public Health Reports, 2006, 121: 729-736.

Honors and Awards

Chancellor’s Award for Research in Public Service, University of California, Berkeley 2012

Damu Smith Environmental Health Achievement Award, Environment Section, American Public Health Association, 2010.

William G. McLoughlin Award for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences, Brown University, 2006

Nearly $9 million in federal, foundation, and state funding secured as principal or co-principal investigator.


Recent Teaching

  • C167 - Environmental Health and Development
  • 197 - FIELD STUDY
  • C254 - Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Health Status

Contact Information

Email: rmf@berkeley.edu

Office: 128B Giannini

Office Phone: 510-643-6358

Fax: 510-643-4361

Office Hours

Mondays, 8-10 AM, 128B Giannini Hall

Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720