Peer-Reviewed Study Drawing on Data from Aclima Mobile Measurements Published in PNAS Reflects the Lived Experience of Communities of Color in the Bay Area
A new peer-reviewed hyperlocal air pollution study with implications for environmental justice policy has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study was led by Dr. Sarah Chambliss in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and Prof. Joshua Apte from UC Berkeley, with co-authors from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Washington, and Aclima.
The scientific study funded by the US EPA, EDF, and Health Effects Institute examines how the variability in ambient air pollutant levels at local and regional scales correlates with the racial and ethnic demographics of the people who live within and across four counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. The hyperlocal air pollution data for the study was generated by the Google Street View fleet equipped with the Aclima hyperlocal air mapping platform.
All of the air pollutants measured —black carbon (BC), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and ultrafine particles (UFP) —had meaningful variation at hyperlocal (i.e. a city block), local (i.e., within individual neighborhoods) and regional (i.e., between neighborhoods) scales.
This variability of air pollution results in racial and ethnic disparities in exposure. For Hispanic and Black populations, median concentrations of UFP, NO, and NO2 were 8%-30% higher than the population average.
On August 16, 2020, more than 10,000 lightning strikes pummeled the Bay Area, sparking wildfires across the region. Twelve days later, two of the three largest fires ever recorded in California history are still burning. Aclima scientists analyzed both regulatory and Aclima data to identify patterns in the impacts of these lightning complex fires on air quality.