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Environmental Health Indicators: Air Quality
 

Air quality indicators:

Background: Exposure to ambient air pollution causes significant public health impacts in the U.S. Exposure to criteria air pollutants (i.e., ozone, particulate matter (PM), sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and lead) and toxic or hazardous air contaminants (e.g., benzene, perchlorethlyene, and methylene chloride) have been related to acute and chronic health conditions as diverse as respiratory illness, reduced lung function, cancer, heart disease, and adverse reproductive outcomes. A 2002 analysis found that a 10% reduction of PM and ozone in Santiago, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, and New York over next 20 years would avoid 64,000 premature deaths, 65,000 chronic bronchitis cases, and 37 million person days of work loss (Cifuentes et al, 2002). Recently, the EPA has been mandated to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a major greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Increases in heat due to CO2 emissions and global warming also create conditions which favor raised ozone levels in urban areas, furthering public health impacts.

Completed Indicators: These indicators, which are standardized and can be compared across states, can be used to detect trends over time, to identify geographic areas in need of improvement, and as a basis for influencing environmental public health policy.

 
Air Quality
Ambient concentrations of pollutants
Measure AQ1.1 Annual average of PM10 24-hour averages, by county
Measure AQ1.2 Annual average of PM2.5 24-hour averages, by county
Measure AQ1.3 Average of the maximum daily 8-hour averages for the ozone season, by county
 
Exceedances of air quality indices and standards
Measure AQ2.1 Number of days and person-days of daily 24-hr average PM2.5 concentrations in the AQI unhealthy range, by county and MSA
Measure AQ2.2 Number of days and person-days of daily maximum 8-hr average ozone concentrations in the AQI unhealthy range, by county and MSA
Measure AQ2.3 Number of days and person-days of air rated unhealthy for sensitive groups or unhealthy for all, by county and MSA
 
Traffic
Measure AQ3.1 Percentage of population living near busy roads (by county)
 
Hazardous air pollutants
Measure AQ4.1 Percentage of population living in counties that exceed health benchmarks for Benzene
Measure AQ4.2 Percentage of population living in counties that exceed health benchmarks for Acrolein
 
Greenhouse gas emissions
Measure AQ5.1 CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions per capita, by sector
   
 
Click here to view the asthma indicators or the climate change indicators. Click here to view other environmental health activities.
 

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