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EPA Science Matters: November 7, 2017

You’ve heard of a carbon footprint, but what about a nitrogen footprint? Nitrogen pollution can negatively affect air and water quality, as well as public health. EPA and collaborators used the Nitrogen Footprint Tool to calculate the nitrogen footprint of seven universities and laboratories to see where they could reduce their nitrogen outputs. The results can help institutions develop better sustainability strategies for their campuses.

EPA is working with citizen scientists in Kansas to evaluate air monitoring technology. EPA recently launched the year-long Kansas City Transportation and Local-Scale Air Quality Study to learn more about air quality in three neighborhoods in Kansas City, KS, that have multiple air pollution sources from highways, railways, and industry. The study will provide comprehensive air quality monitoring using three different air measurement approaches. A citizen science project is part of the study and will involve area residents and students in air measurement activities.

In the summer, tall buildings and concrete turn our cities into urban heat islands, causing people to use more electricity and water in their attempts to cool off. One relatively low-cost, long-term solution: trees. EPA researchers used EnviroAtlas—an interactive geospatial mapping tool—to identify areas in Portland, Oregon, that could benefit from heat mitigation efforts such as planting trees and vegetation. Adding green spaces to reduce the urban heat island effect may lower risk of heatstroke and heat-related mortality, as well as reduce air and water pollution and increase aesthetic value of neighborhoods.You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

Even as air pollution levels decrease, a new study found that people of color continue to be exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks and power plants. In the EPA-funded studyExit, researchers developed an air pollution model that combines regulatory measurements with satellite and land use data to estimate neighborhood exposure to concentrations of nitrogen oxide (NO2) in both 2000 and 2010. The model showedExit that while exposure to outdoor NO2 dropped for all races and ethnicities over the ten-year period, the difference in exposure for people of color and whites only marginally changed.