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Understanding Racial Disparities in Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Considering the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Population Distribution

by Yoo Min Park 1,* and Mei-Po Kwan 2,3,4
1
Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, East Carolina University, Brewster Building A-237, MC-557, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
2
Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong 999077, China
3
Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong 999077, China
4
Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University, 3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030908
Received: 6 January 2020 / Revised: 26 January 2020 / Accepted: 29 January 2020 / Published: 1 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
This study investigates the effect of spatiotemporal distributions of racial groups on disparities in exposure to traffic-related air pollution by considering people’s daily movement patterns. Due to human mobility, a residential neighborhood does not fully represent the true geographic context in which people experience racial segregation and unequal exposure to air pollution. Using travel-activity survey data containing individuals’ activity locations and time spent at each location, this study measures segregation levels that an individual might experience during the daytime and nighttime, estimates personal exposure by integrating hourly pollution maps and the survey data, and examines the association between daytime/nighttime segregation and exposure levels. The proximity of each activity location to major roads is also evaluated to further examine the unequal exposure. The results reveal that people are more integrated for work in high-traffic areas, which contributes to similarly high levels of exposure for all racial groups during the daytime. However, white people benefit from living in suburbs/exurbs away from busy roads. The finding suggests that policies for building an extensive and equitable public transit system should be implemented together with the policies for residential mixes among racial groups to reduce everyone’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution and achieve environmental justice. View Full-Text
Keywords: traffic-related air pollution; exposure to PM2.5; multi-contextual segregation; environmental health disparities; spatiotemporal methods; human mobility; environmental justice; uncertain geographic context problem; neighborhood effect averaging problem traffic-related air pollution; exposure to PM2.5; multi-contextual segregation; environmental health disparities; spatiotemporal methods; human mobility; environmental justice; uncertain geographic context problem; neighborhood effect averaging problem
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Park, Y.M.; Kwan, M.-P. Understanding Racial Disparities in Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Considering the Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Population Distribution. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 908.

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