Erik CruzFollow

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Crime and Justice

First Advisor's Name

Stewart D'Alessio

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lisa Stolzenberg

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Rosa Chang

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Assefa Melesse

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Air Pollution, Carbon Monoxide, CO, Violent Crime, Aggression, Environmental Racism

Date of Defense



Recent research links exposure to air pollution with elevated violent crime rates, despite there being no strong theoretical rationale for why air pollution would influence an individual’s decision to commit a crime. In contrast to prior research that used the violent crime rate as a proxy measure for aggressive behavior, this study employs the probability of a victim being physically injured during the commission of the crime to better quantify the degree of aggressive behavior exhibited by an offender. Results generated in a multilevel analysis of data drawn from 109 U.S. cities show that while carbon monoxide has little effect on the overall level of aggression displayed by the criminal offender, both the offender’s sex and race appear to moderate the relationship between carbon monoxide levels and victim injury. These substantive conditioning effects are likely the consequence of both groups being disproportionately exposed to air pollution. Men tend to be overrepresented in jobs that require workers to spend most of the workday outdoors, thereby increasing their exposure to carbon monoxide. Black citizens are also disproportionately exposed to carbon monoxide emanating from vehicle exhaust because they are often forced to dwell in areas located near a major roadway or highway due to persistent residential racial segregation in society. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.




Included in

Criminology Commons



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