You are on page 1of 25

Environmental Injustice:

Nitrogen Oxide
Concentrations within the United States
Chukwuemelie Onwubuya
& Oluwole Ariyo, Ph.D.
National Environmental Justice Conference, Inc.
Washington, DC
March 10, 2016

Introduction
Nitrogen gas, normally relatively inert (unreactive), comprises
about 80% of the air.
At high temperatures and under certain other conditions it can
combine with oxygen in the air, forming several different
gaseous compounds collectively called nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are the
two
most prevalent compounds found.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Introduction continues

A family of highly reactive gases called nitrogen oxides (NOx)


includes Nitrogen dioxide (EPA, 2016).
These gases are formed when fuel is burned at high temp.
Sources: i. motor vehicle exhaust and
ii. stationary sources: electric utilities and industrial
boilers.
Nitrogen dioxide (brownish gas) is a strong oxidizing agent that
reacts in the air to form corrosive nitric acid, and toxic
organic
nitrates (EPA, 2016).

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Introduction continues
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA establishes air quality
standardsto protect public health and the environment.
EPA has set national air quality standards for six common air
pollutants. These include:
carbon monoxide,
ozone,
lead,
nitrogen dioxide,
particulate matter (also known as particle pollution), and
sulfur dioxide.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Drop in Air pollutants (1980-2014)

(Clark et al., 2014)


2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Nitrogen Oxide
NO2 is often amongst the least pollutants under
consideration
However, it can irritate the lungs and lower resistance to
respiratory infections such as influenza.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Hazardous waste landfill in


Warren County, North Carolina
In 1982, Warren County, a community with the highest
percentage (84%) of black residents, was chosen to host a
landfill that contaminated soil with

polychlorinated biphenyls

(PCBs). .
Experts argued that location of the landfill in made no scientific
sense as the water table was only five to ten feet below the
surface, and area residents relied on local wells for their
drinking water.
Despite the efforts of hundreds of protesters, the PCB polluted
soil was placed in the landfills

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

NO2 concentrations are 38% higher for nonwhites than


for whites across the nation
Environmental Inequality

Income Inequality

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Approximately 57 million people nationwide lived in


counties with pollution levels above the primary NAAQS
(National Ambient Air Standards) in 2014.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Reducing nonwhites NO2 concentrations to levels


experienced by whites would reduce Ischemic Heart
Disease (IHD) mortality by 7,000 deaths per year and
consequently save 16 million people per year
(Clark et al. 2014).

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Effects of NO2 Concentrations


Lung irritation
Lung damage
Increased respiratory disease
Forms smog
Formation of Acid Rain
Destroys Vegetation
Reduce visibility

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Current Trends
Data presented is based on year-2000 population of the
contiguous US, which is about 280million.
Air pollution data are year-2006 annual average groundlevel NO2 concentration estimates from the
published National satellite based land
use regression: NO2 in the United
States.
Nationally, the mean NO2 concentration for all Black
Groups is 11.4
ppb(Clark et al., 2014).
2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Table 1. Comparisons Between Population-Weighted Mean NO 2


Concentrations for Specific Populations

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Several health disparities in NO2


Concentrations.
Average NO2 concentrations for Nonwhites are
4.6ppb higher than whites.
The results also demonstrate that the average
NO2 concentrations for low income nonwhites is
27% higher than high-income whites.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Furthermore, those below the poverty line are


exposed to 10% more NO2 than those above the
poverty line.
Moreover, Nonwhite children below the poverty
level are exposed to 23% more concentrations of
NO2 versus
those from Age 5 - 65 and Nonwhite elderly are
exposed to
24% more concentrations versus those in the age
group: 5 65.
2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Figure 2. Environmental Injustice and Inequality in Residential Outdoor NO 2 Concentrations for US


Regions, States, Counties and Urban Areas (Clark et al., 2014)
2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

The primary comparison metric for environmental


inequality used to measure the extent to which
NO2 concentrations are evenly distributed across the
population.
An Atkinson index of zero indicates perfect equality
and a higher index indicates greater inequality
(where the maximum = 1).
Figure 2. shows that New York, Michigan, and
Wisconsin are the states with the highest levels of
environmental injustice and inequality.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Future Research
The results call for further studies into individual regions,
especially in areas like New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin,
which have shown the highest level of environmental injustice.
Furthermore, these findings call for a closer inspection of
policies and a paradigm shift in research focusing on resolving
such critical issues in the society.
Urban variation in air pollution (Columbia, SC & environment) will be
further investigated

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Future Research contd.

Ogawa badge

Intra-urban variation has been reported to be more than interurban variation (Moore et al., AST, 2010)
Proximity to roadways and other local sources determines
concentrations of pollutants ((Karner et al., ES&T, 2010)
Socio-demographic factors (class, race/ethnicity, income) often
drive proximity resulting in disparities in exposure and resulting
outcomes (ONeill et al., JToxEnvHlth, 2010)
2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

Proposed Solutions
Environmental Justice Program By EPA(Environmental
Protection Agency)
Public Participation in Facility Sitting and Permitting
Management Accountability
Outreach and Partnerships
Technical Assistance and Training
Interaction between Professionals and the Community about
such issues
Stronger Implementation of pollution prevention policies
Focus on Comprehensive policies to eradicate poverty

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

References
Bryant, Bunyan I. 1995. Environmental Justice: Issues, Policies, and

Solutions. Washington, D.C.: Island, 1995. Print.


Clark, Lara P., Dylan B. Millet, and Julian D. Marshall. 2014. "National
Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2
Air Pollution in the United States." Plos One. Web.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). 2016. AirTrends 1195
Summary. http://www3.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrnd95/no2.html
Massey, Rachel. 2016. "Environmental Justice: Income, Race, and
Health." Tufts. Global Development And Environment Institute,
Tufts University. Web.
Natural Resources Defense Council. 2016. "The Environmental Justice
Movement." NRDC:. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

References contd.
No, Anne K. 1996. "Environmental Justice: Concentration on
Education

and Public Participation as an Alternative

Solution to Legislation." William & Mary Environmental

Law and Policy Review 20.3 (1996). Web.


Post,

Ellen

S.,

Anna

Belova,

and

Jin

Huang.

2011.

"Distributional Benefit Analysis of a National Air Quality


Rule." International

Journal of Environmental Research

and Public Health 8.6 (2011). Web.

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved

2016, Allen University. All rights reserved