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National and Intraurban Air Pollution Exposure Disparity Estimates in the United States: Impact of Data-Aggregation Spatial Scale.

  • Clark, Lara P
  • Harris, Maria H
  • Apte, Joshua S
  • Marshall, Julian D
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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Air pollution exposure disparities by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status have been analyzed using data aggregated at various spatial scales. Our research question is this: To what extent does the spatial scale of data aggregation impact the estimated exposure disparities? We compared disparities calculated using data spatially aggregated at five administrative scales (state, county, census tract, census block group, census block) in the contiguous United States in 2010. Specifically, for each of the five spatial scales, we calculated national and intraurban disparities in exposure to fine particles (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic characteristics using census demographic data and an empirical statistical air pollution model aggregated at that scale. We found, for both pollutants, that national disparity estimates based on state and county scale data often substantially underestimated those estimated using tract and finer scales; in contrast, national disparity estimates were generally consistent using tract, block group, and block scale data. Similarly, intraurban disparity estimates based on tract and finer scale data were generally well correlated for both pollutants across urban areas, although in some cases intraurban disparity estimates were substantially different, with tract scale data more frequently leading to underestimates of disparities compared to finer scale analyses.

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