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Children at risk: measuring racial/ethnic disparities in potential exposure to air pollution at school and home
  1. Jayajit Chakraborty1,
  2. Paul A Zandbergen2
  1. 1
    Department of Geography, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA
  2. 2
    Department of Geography, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
  1. Jayajit Chakraborty, Department of Geography, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, NES107, Tampa, FL 33620, USA; jchakrab{at}cas.usf.edu

Abstract

Study objective: This paper addresses the environmental justice implications of children’s health by exploring racial/ethnic disparities in potential exposure to air pollution, based on both school and home locations of children and three different types of pollution sources, in Orange County, Florida, USA.

Methods: Using geocoded school and residence locations of 151 709 children enrolled in the public school system, distribution functions of proximity to the nearest source are generated for each type of air pollution source in order to compare the exposure potential of white, Hispanic, and black children. Discrete buffer distances are utilised to provide quantitative comparisons for statistical testing.

Main results: At any given distance from each type of pollution source, the cumulative proportion of Hispanic or black children significantly exceeds the corresponding proportion of white children, for both school and home locations. Regardless of race, however, a larger proportion of children are potentially exposed to air pollution at home than at school.

Conclusions: This study addresses the growing need to consider both daytime and nighttime activity patterns in the assessment of children’s exposure to environmental hazards and related health risks. The results indicate a consistent pattern of racial inequity in the spatial distribution of all types of air pollution sources examined, with black children facing the highest relative levels of potential exposure at both school and home locations.

  • air pollution
  • environmental justice
  • children
  • race
  • school

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    AIRS
    aerometric information retrieval system
    CDF
    cumulative distribution function
    EPA
    Environmental Protection Agency
    TRI
    toxic release inventory

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