221880 Assessing environmental quality: The implications for social justice

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kristen Rappazzo , Dept. of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Lynne C. Messer, PhD , Duke Global Health Institute, Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research, Duke University, Durham, NC
Jyotsna Jagai, MS, MPH, PhD , Office of Research and Development, Environmental Public Health Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Chapel Hill, NC
Danelle Lobdell, PhD , Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC
Individuals experience simultaneous exposure to pollutants and social factors, which cluster to affect human health outcomes. The optimal approach to combining these factors is unknown, therefore we developed a method to model simultaneous exposure using criteria air pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, and selected socio-demographic measures. Principle components analysis (PCA) was used to create an environmental quality index for all counties in the United States. The air domain was represented with data from the National Emissions Inventory and the National Air Toxics Assessment and the socio-demographic domain with Census 2000 data of percent population in poverty and time spent commuting. In PCA index construction, 35 variables were included for 2308 counties with complete data. Because exposures vary by urbanicity, counties were stratified by percentage of population living in urban areas (urban: greater than or equal to 50%); urban and rural indices were calculated. Overall, the first two components explained 41% of the total variance. Indices derived from the first two components ranged from -0.73 to 12.30, and -9.94 to 10.99, respectively; all indices were standardized to mean of 0, standard deviation of 1. Hazardous pollutants generally contributed more strongly in urban counties and criteria pollutants in the rural counties (PM2.5 loadings were 0.23 urban versus 0.31 rural). This work presents a test case of the development of an environmental quality index, focusing on air and socio-demographic factors. Indices combining multiple domains have the potential to be useful tools for identifying environmental quality disparities. (This abstract does not necessarily reflect EPA policy.)

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe the distribution of county-level environmental quality across the United States 2)Compare differences in environmental quality in counties classified as urban and rural 3)List areas with high potential for social and environmental justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the conception, analysis, and presentation of this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.