Credit: Maria De Jesus
In Houston, as in many urban areas, where people live and work dictates their exposure to harmful pollution. Here, the burden of poor air quality disproportionately impacts people of color and those whose income falls below the federal poverty line. Houston’s unique lack of zoning restrictions allows major polluters to operate freely in close proximity to schools and childcare centers, near homes and places of worship, putting some of the most vulnerable populations at greater risk of asthma, heart disease and stroke.
Maps, like the one EDF created, can help cities and communities identify both where pollution is at its worst and who it impacts, making it easier to target the most damaging hot spots and eliminate them.
Good government relies on high-quality, actionable intelligence, especially when resources are strained.Maia Draper, Air Pollution Policy Manager
The City of Houston has already drawn upon this knowledge to develop its own air quality dashboard tool to identify hotspots of concern and inform where it deploys its pollution monitoring resources. Communities cite air quality measurements as concrete evidence to advocate for improved permitting and enforcement of pollution limits for metal recycling facilities and concrete batch plants that operate in their neighborhoods. Scientists can also use this data to learn more about how different activities—like transportation—contribute to health impacts at the neighborhood level.
Good government relies on high-quality, actionable intelligence, especially when resources are strained. This kind of rich information can help local leaders make a big impact on the lives of some of their cities’ most at risk residents.