Understanding racial disparities in exposure to traffic-related air pollution: Considering the spatiotemporal dynamics of population distribution

Yoo Min Park, Mei Po Kwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigates the effect of spatiotemporal distributions of racial groups on disparities in exposure to traffic-related air pollution by considering people’s daily movement patterns. Due to human mobility, a residential neighborhood does not fully represent the true geographic context in which people experience racial segregation and unequal exposure to air pollution. Using travel-activity survey data containing individuals’ activity locations and time spent at each location, this study measures segregation levels that an individual might experience during the daytime and nighttime, estimates personal exposure by integrating hourly pollution maps and the survey data, and examines the association between daytime/nighttime segregation and exposure levels. The proximity of each activity location to major roads is also evaluated to further examine the unequal exposure. The results reveal that people are more integrated for work in high-traffic areas, which contributes to similarly high levels of exposure for all racial groups during the daytime. However, white people benefit from living in suburbs/exurbs away from busy roads. The finding suggests that policies for building an extensive and equitable public transit system should be implemented together with the policies for residential mixes among racial groups to reduce everyone’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution and achieve environmental justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number908
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Environmental health disparities
  • Environmental justice
  • Exposure to PM
  • Human mobility
  • Multi-contextual segregation
  • Neighborhood effect averaging problem
  • Spatiotemporal methods
  • Traffic-related air pollution
  • Uncertain geographic context problem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding racial disparities in exposure to traffic-related air pollution: Considering the spatiotemporal dynamics of population distribution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this