SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, AIR QUALITY, AND ASTHMA PREVALENCE TO ASSESS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN PHILADELPHIA
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Approximately twenty-five million individuals in the United States suffer from asthma, a chronic lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. Environmental factors, such as air quality, contribute to asthma prevalence. Unfortunately, socioeconomic status is also a key risk factor for asthma, where people of color or of low-income have the highest prevalence of asthma. In the City of Philadelphia, policy-driven segregation helped create underserved and underrepresented communities, where this public health issue is highly prevalent. This study examines the relationship between community demographics, socioeconomic status, air quality, and asthma prevalence from an environmental justice perspective in the City of Philadelphia. Geospatial and correlation analyses were used to determine relationships between community demographics, median household income, yearly average concentration of PM 2.5, and asthma prevalence. Parts of North Philadelphia and West Philadelphia have a relatively high number of non-Hispanic Black residents, relatively low annual median household income, relatively high PM2.5 concentration, and relatively high asthma prevalence. Recommendations for improving air quality and public health include reducing PM2.5 sources, planting more vegetation to reduce PM2.5 levels, promotion of equitable health services, reduction of systemic racism, and implementation of policy-driven reform to promote equity leading to social and environmental justice.