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NOAA Seminar Series: Understanding the socioeconomic impacts of climate changeFree
Title: Understanding the socioeconomic impacts of climate change
Speaker: Selenea Gibson, NOAA EPP/MSI CESSRST-II Fellow at UMBC
Date: June 21, 20223
Time: 1:30 PM ET
Meeting Link : meet.google.com/eeu-gete-ueb
Air quality monitors maintained by the EPA are placed in large metropolitan statistical areas around the United States. The citizen science project, PurpleAir works to place their monitors in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) that the EPA is not covering. When looking at the geographic locations where PurpleAir monitors are placed, we noticed that they seem to be in Whiter and richer tracts/block groups. Using Baltimore City as our primary focus, we noticed that the EPA has one monitor and it is located in a highly affluent tracts/block groups outside the city. PurpleAir has multiple monitors placed throughout the city but are co-located to the prominent White L that stretches from Roland Park to Fells Point (Brown 2016). PurpleAir placed their monitors in well-known historical areas within Baltimore City and with the city being majority 62.8% African American, residents who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) are less accounted for in the air quality data. The city structure of Baltimore displays racial capitalism and suburban segregation and is a gateway for creating other large metropolitan cites across the United States (Glotzer 2020). Our research question asks whether there is a racial disparity between the PurpleAir monitors and their geographic locations to those who are affluent and those who are BIPOC in Baltimore City. We want to investigate the gap of geographic locations containing the PurpleAir monitors starting with Baltimore City then moving on to the MSAs. To test our hypothesis, we pulled all of the EPA/PurpleAir air quality monitors using API keys from open sourced websites. Then concentrated on the 2016-2020 5-year ACS survey data from the US Census Bureau and gathered unique fields needed to complete the analysis. Using spatial statistics and GIS software, we created tables, maps, and plots to confirm our hypothesis. Our findings determined that there is a significant median household income and percent BIPOC difference when comparing PurpleAir tracts in MSAs, especially in the Baltimore City area. We need more EPA and PurpleAir air quality monitors as there is not enough in Baltimore City. PurpleAir monitors are in predominantly Whiter tracts and block groups. For Portland and Seattle MSAs, there are so many PurpleAir monitors that are measuring the majority of White tracts/block groups that it is skewing the data. Lastly, we have a scale issue because Seattle and Portland have more PurpleAir monitors compared to Baltimore City and Philadelphia MSAs. We see a high amount of racial capitalism and highly uneven geographies in MSAs such as Portland and Seattle because of this.