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Zhihua (Tina) Fan, PhD
Graduate Program in Exposure Science
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The overall goals of this dissertation were to develop a definition of air pollution hotspot and to characterize the time-location pattern of a minority-dominated and impoverished population living in a hotspot area.
Based upon the volatile organic compound (VOC) data collected in an exposure study in Camden, New Jersey, four aspects were considered in defining an air pollution hotspot: source, ambient concentrations of air toxics, impact of ambient air pollution on personal exposure and risk assessment. Evaluation was conducted according to these aspects to determine whether the Waterfront South (WFS) neighborhood is a hotspot for ambient air pollution of VOCs. 18 VOC sources were identified in the WFS neighborhood with significant emission. Both the median and the upper bound ambient VOC concentrations in WFS were found higher than two State reference sites, i.e., Chester and New Brunswick. The association between ambient and personal VOC concentrations in WFS was similar to or higher than those obtained in other highly-polluted urban areas, demonstrating a strong impact of ambient VOC air pollution on personal exposures in WFS. Risks assessment suggested elevated cancer risks associated with VOC exposures in WFS. These analyses provided sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that the WFS neighborhood is a hotspot for ambient VOC air pollution. Based on the evaluation, a definition integrating the above four aspects was developed.
The residents of the WFS and CDS neighborhoods are a minority-dominant, impoverished population subgroup. To characterize the time-location pattern of this population, factors that may affect time-location patterns, i.e., employment status, location, season and day of the week were evaluated. Employment status turned out to be the most influential factor. The time-location patterns of the Camden study cohort were compared with the National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS) data, which represent the time-location patterns of the U.S. general population. Given the disadvantaged socioeconomic situation, people in the hotspot spent significantly more time outdoors but less time indoors than the U.S. general population; thus, they have greater potential exposing to ambient air toxics in the hotspot.