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Environmental Quality

Latest Data

Explore the latest data for the LHI topic Environmental Quality: 
 

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

The Air Quality Index (AQI), which reports daily air quality from a value of 0 to 500, considers values greater than 100 to indicate unhealthy levels of air pollution. Between 2006–08 and 2012–14, potential exposure to unhealthy air quality decreased 55.4%, from 2.203 to 0.982 billion AQI-weighted people days, 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 3–11 years decreased 20.9%, from 52.2% to 41.3%, also exceeding the HP2020 target. In 2009–12, several groups of children in specific demographic categories had the lowest rates of secondhand smoke exposure, including Hispanic children, those born outside the U.S., those with private health insurance, and those in families with incomes at 500% or more of the poverty threshold.
 
Considering the full age spectrum of non-smokers, children aged 3–11 years had higher secondhand smoke exposure (41.3%) than adolescents aged 12–17 years (33.6%) or adults aged 18 years and over (24.8%) in 2009–12.
 

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)

  • Healthy People 2020 objective EH-1 tracks the Air Quality Index (AQI), which reports daily air quality from a value of 0 to 500, considers values greater than 100 to indicate unhealthy levels of air pollution.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2006–08, there were 2.203 billion AQI-weighted people days when the AQI exceeded 100.
    • HP2020 Target: 1.980 billion AQI-weighted people days, a 10% improvement over the baseline.
    • Between 2006–08 and 2012–14, the number of AQI-weighted people days decreased 55%, from 2.203 billion to 0.982 billion, exceeding the HP2020 target. 

Exposure to Unhealthy Outdoor Air

Air Quality Web GraphicData source: Air Quality System (AQS), EPA.

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.
  • Significance of trend was evaluated using the Mann-Kendall test.

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 exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • HP2020 Baseline: In 2005–08, 52.2% of children aged 3–11 years were exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • HP2020 Target: 47.0%, a 10% 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 3–11 Years by Health Insurance Status, 2009–12

Exposure to second hand smoke by age

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

  • Among racial and ethnic groups, Hispanic or Latino children aged 3–11 years had the lowest rate of exposure to secondhand smoke in 2009–12 (31.4%), whereas the black non-Hispanic population had a rate of 67.9% and the white non-Hispanic population had a rate of 39.4%. The rate for black non-Hispanic children was more than twice the best group rate.  
  • In 2009–12, 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 health insurance status groups, children aged 3–11 years with private health insurance had the lowest rate of secondhand smoke exposure (27.3%) in 2009–12. Compared to the best group rate, 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 a 60.4% higher rate.  
  • Among family income groups, children aged 3–11 years in families with incomes at 500% or more of the poverty threshold had the lowest rate of secondhand smoke exposure (14.1%) in 2009–12. Rates for children in other income groups were:
    • 62.1% among those in families with incomes below the poverty threshold; more than 4 times the best group rate.
    • 47.6% among those in families with incomes at 100–199% of the poverty threshold; more than 3 times the rate of secondhand smoke exposure.
    • 35.4% among those in families with incomes at 200–399% of the poverty threshold; 2.5 times the best group rate.
    • The rates for children in families with incomes at 400–499% of the poverty threshold were not statistically reliable for 2009–12.  
Endnotes:
  • Unless noted otherwise, all disparities described are statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance.
  • Data are for the proportion of non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke. Persons of all age groups shown are considered to be exposed to secondhand smoke if they have a serum cotinine level of greater than or equal to 0.05 ng/ml and less than or equal to 10 ng/ml. Children aged 3–11 years (TU-11.1) are considered to be non-smokers if they have a serum cotinine level less than or equal to 10ng/ml. Adolescents and adults aged 12 years and over (TU-11.2 and TU-11.3) are considered to be non-smokers if they reported that they did not use any product containing nicotine in the past 5 days and if their serum cotinine level is less than or equal to 10 ng/ml.  
  • Unadjusted rates are used to make comparisons for secondhand smoke exposure by age in this report. The data used to monitor TU-11.3 on www.healthypeople.gov are age adjusted. The age-adjusted rate of secondhand smoke exposure for adults aged 18 years and over in 2009–12 was 25.5%, while the unadjusted rate was 24.8%. Data are age adjusted to the 2000 standard population using the age groups 18–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79, and 80 years and over. Age-adjusted rates are weighted sums of age-specific rates. 
  • 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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