Exploring Air Quality, Race, and Asthma in Californian Residents

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Objective: Air pollution is the most significant environmental cause of disease and premature death; it is estimated to be responsible for approximately 6.5 million deaths worldwide and a wide range of diseases (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2022). This research considers air pollution in relation to asthma and exposure compared with existing literature. This study was conducted to understand the epidemiology and etiology of asthma disparities in children and air pollution across California and to highlight existing literature and policies to aid in addressing inequalities. Methods: Data sets from the National Survey of Children’s Health and CalEnviroScreen 4.0 were analyzed to determine if there is an association between a child’s race/ethnicity or income (as measured by income being sufficient to afford essentials) and developing asthma. The study also endeavored to determine if there was a significant association between air quality and socioeconomic status (SES) across census tracts within California and if San Bernardino County has varying levels of asthma associated with air pollution based on census tract. Summary: This study revealed a significant relationship between self-reported asthma rates and income categories, as well as a significant relationship between socioeconomic status and exposure to air pollution across California census tracts. African American children whose parents reported an inability to afford essentials based on their current income were the most likely to develop asthma. Lower-income individuals were more exposed to air pollution across California census tracts, and there is no correlation between pollution burden and asthma rates across census tracts within San Bernardino County.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Environmental Studies