Date of Graduation

Summer 8-14-2020

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Barbara Sattler

Second Advisor

Kelly McDermott


The purpose of this paper is to analyze the intersection of environmental justice, chronic disease and illness, and pandemics. The inequitable distribution of polluting factories, landfills, and hazardous waste sites have been a long-standing concern in the field of environmental justice. Local zoning codes and land use policies have been tools for segregating people and concentrating pollution in low-income communities and communities of color. Many studies have found that pollution varies among racial and minority groups, and the burden of pollution is not one that is evenly shared. Communities of color and low income communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution and experience higher rates of illness associated with increased exposure. In addition to increased rates of chronic disease, people of color and low income communities are disproportionately affected by respiratory pandemics, including influenza and Coronavirus (COVID-19). COVID-19 has highlighted the inequities that these vulnerable communities face and the compounding effects that air pollution can have on human health. This paper argues that current public health infrastructure does not capture the necessary data to inform policy and improve outcomes for those that are most affected. It calls for the development of a mobile health application to gather community level data, inform and educate residents on the environmental issues in their area, and act as a resource for both individuals and government entities during a pandemic.