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Environmental Quality

Latest Data

Explore the latest data for the LHI topic Environmental Quality.
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Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

The Air Quality Index (AQI), which reports daily air quality as a value of 0 to 500, considers values greater than 100 to indicate unhealthy levels of air pollution. Between 2006–2008 and 2009–2011, potential exposure to unhealthy air quality (measured as the number of AQI-weighted people days) decreased 44.0%, exceeding the HP2020 target. However, air quality, as measured by AQI, is highly dependent on local, seasonal, and annual variation in weather.
 
Between 2005-08 and 2009-12, exposure to secondhand smoke among children aged 3 to 11 years decreased 20.9%, from 52.2% to 41.3%, also exceeding the HP2020 target. Exposure to secondhand smoke varied by race and ethnicity, country of birth, income, and health insurance status.
 
 

Leading Health Indicators

Explore the latest data and disparities for each indicator
Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeding 100 (EH-1)
Children aged 3 to 11 years exposed to secondhand smoke (TU-11.1)

Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeding 100 (EH-1)

The Air Quality Index (AQI), which reports daily air quality as a value of 0 to 500, considers values greater than 100 to indicate unhealthy levels of air pollution. Between 2006-2008 and 2009-2011, the number of AQI-weighted people days decreased 44.0%, from 2.237 billion to 1.252 billion, exceeding the HP2020 target. (This trend cannot be tested for statistical significance.)

Endnotes:

  • Data for this objective are available annually and come from the Air Quality System (AQS), EPA.

  • Populations living in areas with unhealthy air are weighted (multiplied) by the number of AQI days, and the severity of AQI days.

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Children aged 3 to 11 years exposed to secondhand smoke (TU-11.1)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective TU-11.1 tracks the proportion of children aged 3–11 years who were exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–2008, 52.2% of children aged 3–11 years were exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • HP2020 Target: 47.0%, a 10.0% improvement over the baseline.
    • Between 2005-08 and 2009-12 exposure to secondhand smoke among children aged 3–11 years decreased 20.9%, from 52.2% to 41.3%, exceeding the HP2020 target.
Exposure to Secondhand Smoke for Children Aged 3 to 11 by Health Insurance Status, 2009–12
Children with public health insurance had more than twice the rate of secondhand smoke exposure compared with those with private health insurance.

Data Source: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS.

  • Among racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic children aged 3–11 years had the lowest rate of exposure to secondhand smoke in 2009–2012 (31.4%). The rate for non-Hispanic black or African American children (67.9%) was more than twice the best rate.
  • In 2009–2012, children born outside the U.S. were less likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than children born in the U.S. (16.3% vs. 42.4%). The rate for children born in the U.S. was more than 2.5 times the rate for children born outside the U.S.
  • Among insurance status groups, children aged 3–11 years with private health insurance had the lowest rate of secondhand smoke exposure (27.3%) in 2009–2012. Compared to the best group, children with public health insurance (57.5%) had more than twice the rate of secondhand smoke exposure, and children with no health insurance (43.8%) had more than 1.5 times the rate of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Among family income (percentage of the poverty threshold) groups, children aged 3–11 years in families with income 500% above the poverty threshold or higher had the lowest rate of secondhand smoke exposure (14.1%) in 2009–2012. Compared to the best rate:
    • Children in families with incomes below the poverty threshold had nearly 4.5 times the rate of secondhand smoke exposure.
    • Children in families with incomes at 100–199% of the poverty threshold had nearly 3.5 times the rate of secondhand smoke exposure.
    • Children in families with incomes at 200–399% of the poverty threshold had about 2.5 times the rate of secondhand smoke exposure.
    • The rates for children in families at 400–499% of the poverty threshold were not statistically reliable for 2009–2012.

Endnotes:

  • Unless noted otherwise, all disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data are for non-smokers aged 3–11 years who had a serum cotinine level greater than or equal to 0.05 ng/mL and less than or equal to 10 ng/mL. Children are considered to be non-smokers if they have a serum cotinine level less than or equal to 10 ng/mL.
  • The terms “Hispanic or Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.
  • Data for this measure are available biennially and come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), CDC/NCHS. For this data system, 4 years of data are pooled for analysis when available.

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