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Environmental health disparities associated to air stressors in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Patel, Varun (2019) Environmental health disparities associated to air stressors in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Allegheny County, located in southwestern Pennsylvania, has a rich history of industry that includes glass making, steel production, coal-fired power plants, and mining-associated activities such as coke processing. Facilities related to these industries contribute significantly to air pollution, releasing pollutants such as butadiene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde into the air. Coke oven emissions are major air stressors in southeast regions of the county. Coke oven emissions are predominantly released from large ovens used in heating coal to produce coke in steel and iron manufacturing facilities. The emissions are complex mixtures of dust, vapors, and gases that typically include carcinogens such as cadmium and arsenic. In addition, traffic-related pollutants including diesel particulate matter also contribute to poor air quality. Spatial associations between cancer incidence and mortality with air pollution are well studied in several cities in the United States and around the world. However, this study is an attempt to examine the association at a smaller scale i.e., census tract level of Allegheny County. For this study, we used United States Census data, the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Air Toxic Release Assessment (NATA) data for geospatial analysis at the census tract level for Allegheny County. Spatial analysis was used to investigate the association between ambient concentrations of air toxics, lung cancer incidence (N = 6,435) and socioeconomic status (SES) (race/ethnicity and income) in the county from 2010-2015. ArcGIS and QGIS were used to create interactive maps, and GeoDa was used to examine spatial and statistical relationships. We used global and local measures of spatial autocorrelation (Moran’s I) to identify clusters of tracts where lung cancer incidence was significantly higher. We identified a few local “hotspots” of higher cancer incidence. We also found SES positively related to lung cancer incidence as well as ambient levels of certain air toxics. This study revealed associations between lung cancer risk and environmental exposures and identified vulnerable communities where future resources could be allocated to help reduce the disproportionate public health burden.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Patel, Varunvap44@pitt.eduVAP44
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPeterson, Jimjimmyp@pitt.eduJIMMYPUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberStacy, Shaina L.sls157@pitt.eduSLS157UNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberYuan, Jian-Minyuanj@upmc.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 6 May 2019
Date Type: Submission
Number of Pages: 39
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Environmental and Occupational Health
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2019 16:51
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2019 16:51


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