Air Pollution Burden and Three Population Health Indicators in 58 Counties Comprising the State of California, USA

Oscar Oscar Wambuguh, Sofia Lin


Air pollution is a major risk factor in human health causing premature death disease and ranks fifth among the top five leading causes of death worldwide. In California, air pollution attracts significant attention due to increased pollution from fossil fuel burning, industry, transportation, and the state’s drought record and fire-proneness. Data used in this analysis was obtained from the CalEnviroScreen pollution monitoring tool. There is significant variation in air pollution across counties and racial groups. Hispanic populations, followed by Caucasians, predominantly occupy areas with the highest pollution levels above 40%. Most counties had low average scores in population parameters that determine population health. Pollution burden predicted asthma and CVD prevalence but not low-birth-weight babies. Asthma was closely associated with traffic density, PM2.5, cleanup sites, and ozone levels; low-birth-weight babies were associated with traffic density and release of toxic substances; and CVD was associated with PM2.5, toxic release, and cleanup sites. Low HPI scores (<40%) were associated with incidences of asthma and CVD but not low-birth-weight babies. The increased population health compromises in California caused by the effects of air pollution call for a paradigm shift in the way population health is evaluated and effects of air pollution mitigated.

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