Economics at your fingertips  

Disparate air pollution reductions during California’s COVID-19 economic shutdown

Richard Bluhm, Pascal Polonik, Kyle S. Hemes, Luke C. Sanford, Susanne A. Benz, Morgan C. Levy, Katharine L. Ricke and Jennifer A. Burney ()
Additional contact information
Pascal Polonik: UC San Diego
Kyle S. Hemes: Stanford University
Luke C. Sanford: UC San Diego
Susanne A. Benz: UC San Diego
Morgan C. Levy: UC San Diego
Katharine L. Ricke: UC San Diego
Jennifer A. Burney: UC San Diego

Nature Sustainability, 2022, vol. 5, issue 6, 509-517

Abstract: Abstract Minority communities in the United States often experience higher-than-average exposures to air pollution. However, the relative contribution of institutional biases to these disparities can be difficult to disentangle from other factors. Here, we use the economic shutdown associated with the 2020 COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders to causally estimate pollution exposure disparities caused by the in-person economy in California. Using public and citizen-science ground-based monitor networks for respirable particulate matter, along with satellite records of nitrogen dioxide, we show that sheltering in place produced disproportionate air pollution reductions for non-White (especially Hispanic and Asian) and low-income communities. We demonstrate that these racial and ethnic effects cannot be explained by weather patterns, geography, income or local economic activity as measured by local changes in mobility. They are instead driven by regional economic activity, which produces local harms for diffuse economic benefits. This study thus provides indirect, yet substantial, evidence of systemic racial and ethnic bias in the generation and control of pollution from the portion of the economy most impacted in the early pandemic period.

Date: 2022
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

DOI: 10.1038/s41893-022-00856-1

Access Statistics for this article

Nature Sustainability is currently edited by Monica Contestabile

More articles in Nature Sustainability from Nature
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

Page updated 2022-09-15
Handle: RePEc:nat:natsus:v:5:y:2022:i:6:d:10.1038_s41893-022-00856-1