A Granular Characterization of Mobility-Related Air Pollution Exposure Disparity

Air pollution is disproportionately affecting racial minorities and economically-disadvantaged populations. Despite continuous improvement in ambient air quality across the United States, relative exposure disparities among different socioeconomic groups continue to persist, worsening health outcomes and the quality of life of disadvantaged groups. Previous studies have typically measured air pollution exposure based on people’s home locations without considering how individual mobility patterns might influence it. This project quantifies air pollution exposure using big mobility data on individual trips from more than 40 million mobile devices in the contiguous United States for the pre-pandemic year 2019. The research team combines these highly granular mobility data with national air pollution estimates, specifically PM2.5, to first calculate mobility-related exposure in major U.S. cities. In addition, the team links anonymized personal mobility data with their demographics at the census tract level to characterize inequalities in particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure among different racial, ethnic, as well as other demographic groups. Methodologically, this approach explores a new paradigm to assessing short- and long-term individual-level exposure, serving as a reference for cross-sectional and cohort epidemiological studies. The study outcome reveals the spatial heterogeneity of air pollution exposure disparity and how it is linked to street design for cities in the United States. The analysis can inform evidence-based environmental plans and public health strategies to mitigate air pollution’s disproportionate impacts on racial and economically disadvantaged communities.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $144768
    • Contract Numbers:

      DOT 69A3552348325

    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590

      Center for Climate-Smart Transportation

      615 N Wolfe St
      Baltimore, Maryland  United States  21205
    • Managing Organizations:

      Center for Climate-Smart Transportation

      615 N Wolfe St
      Baltimore, Maryland  United States  21205
    • Performing Organizations:

      Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

      77 Massachusetts Avenue
      Cambridge, MA  United States  02139
    • Principal Investigators:

      Santi, Paolo

      Ratti, Carlo

    • Start Date: 20231001
    • Expected Completion Date: 20230930
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01911598
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Center for Climate-Smart Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: DOT 69A3552348325
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Mar 11 2024 9:35PM