Social Disparities in Exposure to Air and Transportation Noise at Us Public Schools

Authors: Shawna Nadybal*, University of Utah, Timothy Collins, University of Utah, Sara Grineski, University of Utah
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Noise Pollution, Environmental Health, Vulnerability, Environmental Justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Excessive rates of noise have long presented themselves as a severe environmental hazard. Soundwaves that exceed 40 decibels have been classified as destructive to human health in their causation of sleep loss, cardiovascular complications, Type II Diabetes, and various mental illnesses. This is especially true for children, who are more vulnerable to noise-related ailments due to their still-developing physiological systems and general degrees of immobility. Several studies regarding the spatial distribution of noise pollution have indicated disparities in the level of exposure for marginalized socioeconomic groups, but there is a gap in the literature as to how these patterns may affect school-aged children in the United States specifically. This paper seeks to be the first in determining how the sociodemographic composition of US public schools, as well as the grade levels served by the schools, relate to noise exposure. We accomplished this through creating generalized estimating questions (GEEs) based on road and air transportation noise data from the US Department of Transportation’s National Bureau for Transportation Statistics and spatial and social data from the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics during the 2014-2015 school year. This was done to predict air and road transportation noise while accounting for clustering at the school-district level. While discussed separately, the results of the air and road transportation noise GEEs generally indicate that students of economically-marginalized backgrounds, students of color, and those attending elementary schools across the United States experience more noise pollution than their respective counterparts.

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