Impact of Air Pollution on Diverse Communities

How our communities are built has a lasting impact on community health. See how here.


We are constantly updating Metopio’s curated data sets to offer opportunities to understand how the places and populations you care about are impacted. This analysis tackles air quality.

Science Magazine recently published a study that found that higher levels of the tiny, dangerous particles in air known as particulate matter, or PM 2.5, have resulted in 85,000 to 200,000 premature deaths per year and untold health complications.

We have replicated this finding with Metopio’s filtered maps.

First, we used particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentration PMC higher than the median nationally. We added non-Hispanic white population PCT below the median to account for diverse demographics and found that fifteen states that are significantly impacted.

In fact, we find PM 2.5 concentration, or air pollution, is highly correlated with shorter life expectancy.

Metopio provides explanations for you in the What this plot shows or the green Highly Significant drop down.

With Metopio, you can then dive deeper and examine other health conditions that may be impacted by air pollution using PM 2.5 concentration. For example, using the scatterplot we find pollution and chronic disease data at the county level shows highly significant correlations for each of these conditions. Click each to view the corresponding scatterplot.

These correlations mean that air pollution can be a contributing factor in these chronic diseases – remember, correlation is not causation.

Each trend line in the above four linked scatterplots move up and to the right. This shows an increase in air pollution closely correlates with a chronic disease when holding some variables constant like income, education, and demographics.

When you hover over any of the bubbles that are far away from the trend line to the top right, you will see a correlation with the state analysis above. These places have high PM 2.5 concentration and high chronic disease.

See all the analyses in this article in the project: Health Impact of Air Pollution.

Each step in this analysis creates a clearer and clearer picture of who is at risk and where. The next step is to put the insight to work. For example, you might be a —

  • Policymaker—Ways to offset the amount or impact of air pollution could result in a healthier population. Action – Consider prioritizing parks, green infrastructure, incentives for low emission vehicles or pollution offsets in communities with the highest impacts.
  • Patient Navigator— Are the community conditions exacerbating a chronic condition? Are you missing a contact point to collect important data. Action – Consider outreach to your patients in high-risk locations and make sure they have the resources they need.
  • Insurer—If you have a risk-based contract with a provider, are you modeling what social determinant burdens might exacerbate chronic conditions? Action – Consider matching this data with your own to see if you should be planning for increased need in certain areas.
Do you have data that would enhance this analysis?

Metopio aggregates high-quality, verified data that has some geographic component – think address or any part thereof – to develop insights that inform your business and policy decisions. Let us know! Contact us

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