2020 SUBMISSION

Our research question this year focuses on changes in air pollution pre and during COVID-19 within areas of ranging socioeconomic statuses in NYC. Upon completion of the abstract and finalized paper, we have submitted our abstract to be presented at the 2021 APHA Annual Meeting & Expo. The APHA Annual Meeting & Expo is a conference where public health professionals can interact and engage with peers regarding latest research on public health. The conference encourages promoting best practices along with advocating for public health issues rooted in research-rooted discoveries. Attached below is the abstract for our IGNITE 2020 research paper.  

Comparing Air Pollution Changes Due to COVID-19 Related Lockdowns Between Areas with
Differing Socioeconomic Status

          Existing studies of COVID-19’s effects on ambient air pollution have not investigated the
potential association between socioeconomic status and changes in air pollution. We
hypothesized decreased human activity due to COVID-19 lockdowns would cause larger
decreases in PM2.5 concentrations within major US cities. Additionally, within New York City,
NY (NYC), we expected to observe decreases in PM2.5 according to the relative socioeconomic
status of the area, with larger decreases in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. To examine
this hypothesis, we adopted two approaches. First, we examined PM2.5 changes by borough,
comparing the magnitude of change in concentration and the socioeconomic status of each
borough. Second, changes in PM2.5 within low-income, historically red-lined areas were
examined to determine whether discriminatory redlining practices affected the magnitude of air
pollution changes that were present during the COVID-19 lockdown periods.

We examined city-level changes in four major US cities: NYC, NY; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL;
San Francisco, CA. Statistically significant differences in average daily PM2.5 data before and
during COVID-19 lockdown periods were found only in Houston, TX (p < 0.0001) and NYC (p
< 0.0001). Houston observed a 15.1% decrease in average daily PM2.5 (11.28 vs. 9.58 μg/m3),

while NYC saw a 19.8% decrease in its average daily PM2.5 (6.42 vs. 5.15 μg/m3) during its
COVID-19 lockdown period. The results of our NYC analyses showed a statistically significant
difference in pre-lockdown PM2.5 data between high- and low-income boroughs (p = 0.01).
Within high-income boroughs, there was a statistically significant difference found between daily
mean pre-lockdown and lockdown PM2.5 data (p < 0.0001; 5.23 vs. 3.88 μg/m3). Within
low-income boroughs, there was an even larger difference found between mean pre-lockdown
and lockdown PM2.5 data (p < 0.0001; 5.74 vs. 3.63 μg/m3
). In lockdown data, air pollution
levels in ‘D’ graded red-lined areas were 27.3% higher than in other areas (4.80 vs 3.49 μg/m3).

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