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Addressing inequity in air quality

2021-06-23
(Press-News.org) Air quality varies greatly within regions and cities around the world, and exposure to air pollution can have severe health impacts. In the U.S., people of color are disproportionately exposed to poor air quality. A cover story in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, highlights how scientists and community activists are using new technologies to gather data that could help address this inequity.

Despite the success of the U.S. Clean Air Act in improving ambient air quality over the past 50 years, discriminatory housing, loan and other policies -- known as redlining -- have limited where people of color can live. That means they are more likely to live near "pollution hot spots," such as warehouses, freeways and ports, writes Senior Correspondent Katherine Bourzac. As a result, communities of color have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, asthma and other health issues. Although regulatory air monitors are being operated by federal and local agencies, they typically can't capture air-quality differences within cities.

To fill the gaps, researchers are combining air-pollution measurement technologies with land-use data, modeling studies and other data collection methods. For example, scientists studying air quality in Houston using satellites and U.S. Census Bureau data determined that majority Black, Hispanic and Latino neighborhoods had 37% higher levels of nitrogen dioxide than majority white communities. Scientists hope that higher resolution data from satellites and ground-based tools will help policymakers mitigate inequity and adverse health effects due to air pollution.

INFORMATION:

The article, "A local look at air pollution highlights inequalities within cities," is freely available here.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS' mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world's scientific knowledge. ACS' main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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[Press-News.org] Addressing inequity in air quality