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Pittsburgh's History of Poor Air Quality: A Viewpoint on Environmental Injustice in the Monongahela River Valley

Albrecht, Jessica (2020) Pittsburgh's History of Poor Air Quality: A Viewpoint on Environmental Injustice in the Monongahela River Valley. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Pittsburgh’s legacy of poor air quality is seen in even the most surface level analyses of the areas history. Due to recent concern, and despite modern improvements, most communities around Pittsburgh breathe air that does not meet EPA standards. Harmful air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and fine particulate matter have been associated with negative health outcomes in these neighborhoods. Research over the past decade has shown a strong relationship between these air pollutants and established health endpoints and may cause a broader number of disease outcomes than previously thought. Now that poor ambient air quality has been established as a significant public health concern there has been an enormous effort to lessen air pollution and negate health effects seen in individuals in the Monongahela River Valley. These environmental quality factors are fundamental determinants of human health and can lead to health disparities when areas where people live and work are burdened by social inequities. The social inequities seen in neighborhoods in the Monongahela River Valley exist in a combination of substandard environmental quality, higher frequency of sickness and disease, and worse access to health services than in nearby wealthier communities. Thousands of residents live and work in areas in the Mon Valley where air pollution levels are high enough to cause both acute and chronic health outcomes. Those exposed to this pollution are often low-income families and people of color living in close proximity to industrial sources. Socioeconomic status, cultural influences, and access to health services all determine social inequities that affect the overall health of a community. Data strongly suggests that the low socioeconomic status of populations in these communities has led to the disproportional risk and burden of pollution the areas presently experience. The public health significance of air quality related disease outcomes suggests that clear communication and mitigation strategies are necessary to protect vulnerable populations.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Albrecht, JessicaJSA45@pitt.eduJSA45
Date: 12 May 2020
Date Type: Acceptance
Number of Pages: 33
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Environmental and Occupational Health
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2020 18:08
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2020 18:08


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