The whole is greater than the sum of its parts : cumulative risk of indoor air pollution and urban vulnerability in Cato Manor.
Binedell, Michelle Louise.
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Low-income communities are potentially more vulnerable to physical, social and environmental hazards than wealthier communities. The lack of services associated with these communities (such as water supply, sanitation facilities and electrification) has increased the exposure of households to health hazards. These households also lack the coping mechanisms and resources to deal with the stress that these hazards impose on them. This study is concerned with the potential health hazards imposed from indoor air pollution. Traditional health risk assessments are used to determine the level of risk to human health from a variety of chemical or biological hazards. What these assessments do not include however, is a measure of the vulnerability of the household. The aim of this study therefore, was to develop a methodology for generating a vulnerability index for the inclusion of factors underlying urban poverty and vulnerability into a risk assessment of indoor air pollution. The approach adopted in this study followed an iterative and inductive pathway. Theories on risk assessment and urban vulnerability were explored in order to understand the manner in which risk to human health is assessed and compounded by vulnerability. Secondary data sources as well as a household survey provided information that aided the selection of a number of vulnerability indicators. These indicators were chosen as measures of vulnerability specifically for low-income households in South African settlements. The findings of the research show that there are a number of factors or issues which underlie vulnerability. The issues are related to demographics, livelihoods, physical exposures, externalities, services and general health. This study used a four-tiered selection approach to sift through the issues of vulnerability and to transform the key issues into a set of vulnerability indicators which make up the vulnerability index.