Project at a Glance

Title: Total Exposures to Air Pollutants and Noise in Disadvantaged Communities

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Noth, Elizabeth

Contractor: UC Berkeley

Contract Number: 20RD012

Research Program Area: Health & Exposure

Topic Areas: Environmental Justice, Vulnerable Populations

Research Summary:

Exposure to particulate and toxic air pollutants such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5), ultrafine particles (UFP), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is associated with adverse health effects including asthma, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes in children. CalEnviroScreen, a geographically-based mapping tool that ranks communities by potential exposure, vulnerability, and social economic indicators, shows that many low income and disadvantaged communities (DACs) in California experience higher air pollution and consequent health impacts compared with more affluent neighborhoods. In addition to higher pollutant exposures, DACs are subjected to higher levels of ambient noise, which are also known to negatively affect health. While numerous studies have shown that DACs are subjected to disproportionate exposures to air pollutants and noise, there is less known about the direct impact of different sources, activities, and residential spaces on the total air pollutant and noise exposures for individuals.

This research will use indoor and outdoor field studies along with personal monitoring conducted in DACs in Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley to assess exposures to pollutants and noise. DACs will be selected based on the potential for a wide range of air pollutant sources and different types of residential spaces. The expected results will address knowledge gaps about exposures in DACs by providing information on how personal behaviors and external factors such as building characteristics (housing stock, ventilation and filtration systems, etc), modes of transportation, or participant location contribute to pollutant and noise exposure and indoor air quality (IAQ). The results from this study will be used to assess potential health risks for DAC residents and support the goals of California Assembly Bill 617 (AB 617) by identifying the top localized sources and personal activities that are most responsible for air pollutant and noise exposure in DACs. This study will also provide CARB with data to inform policies for decarbonization.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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