National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States

PLOS: April 15, 2014

We describe spatial patterns in environmental injustice and inequality for residential outdoor nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in the contiguous United States. Our approach employs Census demographic data and a recently published high-resolution dataset of outdoor NO2 concentrations. Nationally, population-weighted mean NO2concentrations are 4.6 ppb (38%, p<0.01) higher for nonwhites than for whites. The environmental health implications of that concentration disparity are compelling. For example, we estimate that reducing nonwhites’ NO2 concentrations to levels experienced by whites would reduce Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) mortality by ~7,000 deaths per year, which is equivalent to 16 million people increasing their physical activity level from inactive (0 hours/week of physical activity) to sufficiently active (>2.5 hours/week of physical activity). Read More