credit: EPA AirNow

Risk Factor: Air Quality

Long-term exposure to polluted air can have detrimental health effects including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both acute and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. Indoor air pollutants such as secondhand smoke, dust mites, cockroaches, nitrogen dioxide (from gas stoves) and mold/mildew can trigger asthma attacks and respiratory infections. Urban outdoor air pollution (e.g., ozone, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, etc) is one of the top ten causes of death in high-income countries like the U.S.8 The burden of air pollution is not evenly shared across communities, and it’s been widely proven that low-income and minority communities are at greater risk for toxic exposures within their homes, neighborhoods and larger communities.

  • African American children are twice as likely to be hospitalized for asthma and four times as likely to die from asthma compared to white children.9
  • Approximately 40% of diagnosed asthma cases in children are attributed to indoor air pollution10
  • Low-income and minority communities are at greater risk for inadequate housing and live in urban areas with higher levels of outdoor air pollution 
  • Nationally, outdoor NO2 air pollution concentrations are 38% higher for racial minorities than for whites8
  • In 2009, the city of New Haven had the highest rates of asthma hospitalization in Connecticut. There were significant disparities in the number of asthma-related emergency room visits among the lower-income and higher-income neighborhoods. Efforts are being taken as part of the CTP to identify homes in New Haven asthma “hot spots” to coordinate targeted interventions.5

Inspirational Innovation: TZOA is a wearable enviro-tracker that monitors air pollution and UV exposure to help you stay healthy and explore your environment. The device uses internal sensors to measure your air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light, and UV exposure. TZOA’s vision is to create a social movement for environmental change. Environmental awareness leads to advocacy, which leads to action – helping to perpetuate innovation and green technology.

5. New Haven City Transformation Plan. 2016.

8. Clark LP, Millet DB, Marshall JD. National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States.PloS one.

9.Children's Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma. United States Environmental Protection Agency;2014. 

10. Housing and Health. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.