Los Angeles County (LAC) low-income communities of color experience uneven asthma rates, evidenced by asthma emergency department visits (AEDV). This has partly been attributed to inequitable exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM). Promisingly, public parks and open space (PPOS) contribute to DPM mitigation. However, low-income communities of color with limited access to PPOS may be deprived of associated public health benefits. Therefore, this novel study investigates the AEDV, DPM, PPOS nexus to address this public health dilemma and inform public policy in at-risk communities. Optimized Hotspot Analysis was used to examine geographic clustering of AEDVs, DPM, and PPOS at the census tract unit of analysis in LAC. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis was used to examine the extent to which DPM and PPOS predict AEDVs. Finally, Geographic Weighted Regression (GWR) was employed to account for spatial dependence in the global OLS model. Optimized Hotspot Analysis confirmed significant clustering of elevated AEDVs and DPM in census tracts with reduced PPOS. After controlling for pertinent demographic characteristics (poverty, children, race/ethnicity), regression analysis confirmed that DPM was significantly positively associated with AEDVs, whereas PPOS was significantly negatively associated with AEDVs. Furthermore, GWR revealed that 71.5% of LACs census tracts would benefit from DPM reductions and 79.4% would benefit from PPOS increases toward redressing AEDVs. This is the first study to identify AEDV reductions in census tracts with higher concentrations of PPOS. Thus, reducing DPM and increasing PPOS may serve to improve asthma outcomes, particularly in low-income communities of color.
Jason A. Douglas, Reginald S. Archer, Serena E. Alexander, Ecological determinants of respiratory health: Examining associations between asthma emergency department visits, diesel particulate matter, and public parks and open space in Los Angeles, California, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 14, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.100855.