Ambient nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5)
pollution threaten public health in the United States (U.S.), and
systemic racism has led to modern-day disparities in the distribution
and associated health impacts of these pollutants. Many studies on
environmental injustices related to ambient air pollution focus only on
disparities in pollutant concentrations or provide only an assessment of
pollution or health disparities at a snapshot in time. In this study we
aim to document changing disparities in pollution-attributable health
burdens over time and, for the first time, disparities in
NO2-attributable health impacts across the entire U.S. We show that,
despite overall decreases in the public health damages associated with
NO2 and PM2.5, ethnoracial relative disparities in NO2-attributable
pediatric asthma and PM2.5-attributable premature mortality in the U.S.
have widened during the last decade. Racial disparities in PM2.5
attributable premature mortality and NO2-attributable pediatric asthma
have increased by 19% and 16%, respectively, between 2010 and 2019.
Similarly, ethnic disparities in PM2.5-attributable premature mortality
have increased by 40% and NO2-attributable pediatric asthma by 10%.
These widening trends in air pollution disparities are reversed when
more stringent air quality standard levels are met for both pollutants.
Our methods provide a semi-observational approach to tracking changes in
disparities in air pollution and associated health burdens across the