Disparities in Extreme Heat Exposure in Maricopa County, Arizona: The Intersection of Race/ethnicity and Older Age

Authors: Shaylynn Trego*, University of Utah, Sara Grineski, University of Utah, Timothy Collins, Univeristy of Utah, Aaron B. Flores, University of Utah, Roger Renteria, University of Utah
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: extreme heat, race, ethnicity, older age, social inequality, environmental justice, hazards
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Extreme heat causes more deaths than all other extreme weather events combined in the US. Due to climate change, heat waves are becoming more frequent, more intense, and longer, while human populations increasingly concentrate in urban areas that function as heat islands. Epidemiological studies have documented disparities in heat-related morbidity and mortality based on older age, racial/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic statuses. Distributive environmental justice (EJ) studies find that disproportionately high temperature exposures burden racial/ethnic minority and low socioeconomic status (SES) groups in the US, which amplifies the heat-related health disparities they experience. Few studies have examined how racial/ethnic status intersects with other dimensions of social inequality to influence hazard exposures, and a complete lack of knowledge exists regarding the intersection of racial/ethnic minority status with older age status in shaping patterns of environmental injustice with respect to heat. We address those limitations through a novel analysis of the intersection of racial/ethnic and older age statuses in exposure to extreme heat in Maricopa County, Arizona. Socio-demographic data for Maricopa County census tracts come from the American Community Survey 2018 5-year estimates. Remote sensing data on land surface temperature (LST) for the summer months of the years 2014-2018 at a 30-meter resolution come from US Landsat Ready Data, which we use to calculate the mean LST of census tracts. Analysis results reveal differing associations with LST based on older age Hispanic/Latinx vs. White population composition, which provides insights on the intersection of race/ethnicity and older age in exposure to extreme heat.

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