About NCCU Academics Admissions Athletics Campus Life Giving Research

Air Quality Research Examines High Levels of Pollutants

Pollution levels rise during rush hour along heavily traveled corridors.

A study at North Carolina Central University that monitored air quality at intersections near the university found patterns of pollution that could pose a health risk to residents, commuters and pedestrians.

NCCU Environmental Health Professor John Bang, M.D., Ph.D., led the two-year study with funding from the Health Effects Institute/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a collaboration with N.C. State University, University of California-Berkeley and the Desert Research Institute of the  Nevada System of Higher Education. The results will be presented Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the NC Breathe Conference at Wake Forest University.

“This study was intended to produce information on how land-use practices can be applied to reduce the level of exposure to air pollutants in a systematic way,” Bang said. “It was also implanted in a way that can be simulated in many other places with similar conditions.”

It was the first study to closely examine the impact of air pollution in a minority community with the goal of predicting similar conditions in other neighborhoods.  

The NCCU study, titled “Impacts of Land Use Practice, Traffic Patterns and Human Activity on Air Quality in a Local Durham Community,” examines air quality in the minority community with high traffic volumes surrounding the university. The findings could be valuable in future land use planning to reduce exposure to air pollutants for local residents, commuters and pedestrians, Bang said.

Researchers found the highest levels of ultrafine pariculate matter (UFPs) in winter months during morning rush hour. Factors impacting air pollution levels included air temperature, degree of sunshine penetration, wind speed and direction, humidity and human activities, such as burning leaves or cooking.

The researchers completed 1,447 observations to detect UFPs in the air at various times of day and in summer and winter. UFPs are primarily carbon compounds that become airborne and have the potential to penetrate deep into the lungs. They are created through combustion reactions and are found in automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke, cook stoves, emissions from laser printers, and many other processes.

Air pollution has as been implicated in premature deaths worldwide due to the raised risk of cardiovascular and other systemic diseases. UFP emissions are difficult to detect and are not currently regulated in the United States, as are larger particulates.

A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published in February 2018 in the American Journal of Public Health found that African-Americans have a 54 percent higher health burden than the overall population, directly caused, in part, by the impact of particulate air emissions on minority neighborhoods.


Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2018
by Senior Writer and Editor, Renee Elder
See All NCCU News

Spread the Word

Post this story on Facebook
Tweet It

Get More News

  • See All NCCU News
  • Searchable Archives
  • Campus Echo, NCCU's perennially Award-Winning Student Newspaper
  • See Today's Top Story
  • Or,  
NCCU complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all programs and activities (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) in the University's educational programs and activities. For additional resources or to file a Title IX complaint, visit the NCCU's Title IX webpage.
© 2018 North Carolina Central University 1801 Fayetteville St., Durham, NC 27707