Effects of Air Pollution Variables on Health Disparities in the Philadelphia Region
Over the summer, as a part of the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentorship program (PURM), I worked with Professor Blanca Himes to understand whether Air Pollution disproportionately affects certain demographics in the Philadelphia region. Over my time as a part of Himes Lab, I had the opportunity to explore new methods of data collection and modeling and gained new skills to help my research in the future.
I began by conducting exploratory research and analysis on my data, plotting out various graphs and maps of my data. I used American Community Survey (ACS) data from the Census Bureau and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on daily criteria air pollutant readings for 2020. After cleaning the data, I proceeded to plot heatmaps of pollutant prevalence in the Philadelphia region. This helped me understand the exact number of recording stations in the region and helped me discard PM 10 readings, which only had one recording station in the region.
Following this, I proceeded to conduct a correlation analysis of all remaining pollutants with various demographic percentages in the Philadelphia region. I used data from the Census Bureau to ensure demographic data was as comprehensive and accurate as possible. The analysis showed that there was a strong positive correlation between demographics and several pollutants for White Americans in the Philadelphia region, a mixed combination of correlations for Black Americans, and a negative correlation for Hispanic Americans. This was counterintuitive to previous literature on this subject, and I believe would be an interesting subject for further study.