First Advisor

Meenakshi Rao

Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mechanical Engineering and University Honors


Mechanical and Materials Engineering




redlining, environmental justice, air pollution, toxicity, data science




Historically-redlined neighborhoods across the metropolitan United States -- most often socioeconomically disadvantaged communities of color -- have been shown in multiple studies to be disproportionately affected by environmental burdens, having greater exposure to air, water, and ground pollution as well as being subject to the "urban heat island" effect, among other disparities. Studies into the continuing environmental inequity present in these communities in Portland, Oregon specifically have addressed this phenomenon, finding that these neighborhoods are 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average than their wealthier and (mostly) whiter counterparts, in large part due to a lack of green spaces and tree canopy. While the effects of extreme heat are well-documented (recently illustrated by the record-breaking heatwave in the Pacific Northwest), in what other ways are socioeconomically disadvantaged communities affected by inequitable environmental and urban policies? This project will use the programming language R to create an interactive visualization of 1) recent air toxic emissions and their relation to formerly redlined communities using facility emissions data from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Preliminary results suggest that vulnerable communities are exposed to air toxics at a concentration higher than the average, though this phenomenon is not confined to these formerly redlined areas.


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