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The Different Air We Breathe: Quantifying and Contextualizing Air Quality in Socioeconomically Contrasting Poughkeepsie

Authors: Penelope Mort Ranta*, Vassar College, Mary Ann Cunningham, Professor
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Field Methods
Keywords: Mobile mapping, air quality, heat vulnerability, urban heat islands
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: Download



While there has been research on flooding and other local impacts of climate change in the Hudson Valley in New York, air quality in the City of Poughkeepsie has received little attention. Yet the factor is increasingly considered important by national organizations such as NOAA to understanding—and mitigating—climate change and its effects. We examined whether there were differences in air quality and heat impacts in socioeconomically contrasting parts of Poughkeepsie. First we measured metrics of air quality in the city of Poughkeepsie: fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), NO2, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and difference between measured and regional temperature (ΔT) by biking with a portable air quality monitor. After mapping and identifying spatial patterns in the air quality, we chose three possible explanatory variables: impervious surface cover (ISC), tree cover, and traffic counts, and used spatial and statistical analysis to determine the influence of these factors on air quality and ΔT. Finally, we found areas in which relatively worse air quality correlated with populations deemed vulnerable by other heat-stress studies to identify areas of the city most susceptible to worsening air quality. While the north of Poughkeepsie was expected to have the worst air quality due to its land use and cover, the areas near and north of the arterials, or highways through the city, seem to have only higher temperatures and greater amounts of VOCs than those south of the arterials. Unexpectedly, neither tree cover nor traffic counts explain these discrepancies as well as ISC.

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