Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Puvvula et al. BMC Public Health (2023) 23:119


Open access.


Background Attributes defining the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) are associated with disproportionate exposures to environmental hazards and differential health outcomes among communities. The dynamics between SDoH, disproportionate environmental exposures, and differential health outcomes are often specific to micro-geographic areas.

Methods This study focused on children less than 20 years of age who lived in Douglas County, Nebraska, during 2016–2019. To assess the role of SDoH in differential exposures, we evaluated the association between SDoH metrics and criteria pollutant concentrations and the association between SDoH and pediatric asthma exacerbations to quantify the role of SDoH in differential pediatric asthma outcomes. The Bayesian Poisson regression model with spatial random effects was used to evaluate associations.

Results We identified significant positive associations between the annual mean concentration of criteria pollutants (carbon monoxide, particulate matter2.5, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide) with race (Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic/ Latino), financial stability, and literacy. Additionally, there were significant positive associations between higher rates of pediatric asthma emergency department visits and neighborhoods with more Non-Hispanic Black children, children without health insurance coverage, and households without access to a vehicle.

Conclusions Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic/Latino children living in Douglas County, NE experience disproportionately higher exposure to criteria pollutant concentrations. Additionally, higher rates of asthma exacerbations among Non-Hispanic Black children could be due to reduced access to respiratory care that is potentially the result of financial instability and vehicle access. These results could inform city planners and health care providers to mitigate respiratory risks among these higher at-risk populations.