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Causal effect of changes in industrial air pollution on asthma rates in Western Pennsylvania

Kuzemchak, Margaret C (2022) Causal effect of changes in industrial air pollution on asthma rates in Western Pennsylvania. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis assesses the causal effects of the closure of the Horsehead Holding Corporation zinc smelter in Beaver County in 2014 on asthma encounters through a change in air pollution. The smelter was one of many industrial sources of air pollution in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s history. Air pollution, specifically in the form of PM 2.5, has a negative effect on public health by increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, asthma, and mortality. The empirical methods used in this study were a difference in difference analysis and an instrumental variable analysis. The results show a decrease in PM 2.5 air pollution and total asthma encounters in Beaver County due to the closure. Although the results were not statistically significant, clinical significance may be given to the findings. Both methods concluded that 47 asthma encounters per year were prevented in the area exposed to the zinc smelter due to the closure. Further analysis could lend to the understanding of total community health effects of point source polluters in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This thesis, despite its limitations, provides evidence of a decrease in particulate air pollution and asthma outcomes due to the closure of the smelter that are important for public health in Beaver County and Southwestern Pennsylvania.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kuzemchak, Margaret Cmck76@pitt.edumck76
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorYouk, Adaayouk@pitt.eduayouk
Committee MemberBuchanich, Jeaninejeanine@pitt.edujeanine
Committee MemberCarlson, Jennajnc35@pitt.edujnc35
Committee MemberRobertson, Ericeric.roberts@pitt.edueric.roberts
Date: 12 May 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 April 2022
Approval Date: 12 May 2022
Submission Date: 28 April 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 105
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Biostatistics
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: environmental health, pollution, asthma, Pennsylvania, causal
Date Deposited: 12 May 2022 13:22
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2022 19:35


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