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Open AccessArticle

Distributional Benefit Analysis of a National Air Quality Rule

Environment and Resources Division, Abt Associates Inc., 4550 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 800 North, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 1872-1892; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph8061872
Received: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 21 May 2011 / Published: 1 June 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)
Under Executive Order 12898, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must perform environmental justice (EJ) reviews of its rules and regulations. EJ analyses address the hypothesis that environmental disamenities are experienced disproportionately by poor and/or minority subgroups. Such analyses typically use communities as the unit of analysis. While community-based approaches make sense when considering where polluting sources locate, they are less appropriate for national air quality rules affecting many sources and pollutants that can travel thousands of miles. We compare exposures and health risks of EJ-identified individuals rather than communities to analyze EPA’s Heavy Duty Diesel (HDD) rule as an example national air quality rule. Air pollutant exposures are estimated within grid cells by air quality models; all individuals in the same grid cell are assigned the same exposure. Using an inequality index, we find that inequality within racial/ethnic subgroups far outweighs inequality between them. We find, moreover, that the HDD rule leaves between-subgroup inequality essentially unchanged. Changes in health risks depend also on subgroups’ baseline incidence rates, which differ across subgroups. Thus, health risk reductions may not follow the same pattern as reductions in exposure. These results are likely representative of other national air quality rules as well. View Full-Text
Keywords: distributional analysis; environmental justice; air quality regulation; health benefits distributional analysis; environmental justice; air quality regulation; health benefits
MDPI and ACS Style

Post, E.S.; Belova, A.; Huang, J. Distributional Benefit Analysis of a National Air Quality Rule. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8, 1872-1892.

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