Addressing California’s Persistent Air Quality Disparities
California has made dramatic progress in reducing air pollution over the past six decades. Despite this progress, low-income and minority populations in California still experience substantially disparate air pollution exposures. Aggressive efforts to decarbonize the economy offer potential to reduce these disparities — especially if emissions sources with highly disparate exposure impacts are effectively controlled. Here, we investigate the question: “what air pollution sources in California drive the disparate PM2.5 exposures of low-income and minority communities?” To do so, we apply a recently developed air quality model (InMAP) at high resolution over California to develop a matrix that links spatially explicit emissions from all major sectors of the California economy with exposures at 1x1 km. Several major sectors including on-road transport and industry have an especially disparate impact on environmental justice. Overall, we find that only 5-10% of emissions in California drive nearly all the PM2.5 disparity in California’s most environmentally disadvantaged communities, suggesting that targeted emissions controls could be especially effective.
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
APTE Research Group
Joshua Apte is an assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His work focuses on human exposure to air pollution in the built environment. His research interests include methods for air pollution assessment at local and global scales; atmospheric aerosol dynamics; and air quality, environmental justice, and environmental sustainability in low-income areas. Apte was the inaugural ITRI-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Fulbright-Nehru Fellow at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. He holds a Ph.D. in Energy and Resources from UC Berkeley.