Effects of Pollution Hotspots, Education and Income on Birthweight in California


Shane Gillispie

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New Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis reveals a correlation between pollution hotspots in California and zones of high percentage of low-birthweight babies. The data reveals that both data sets are spatially distributed with a similar pattern; the pollution data and the zones of highest cancer risk are clustered around the most developed, urban areas. The low birthweight data is less obvious, however there is a clear cluster of the most intense congregations of zones of low birthweight are also centered around the urban areas. Upon further inspection, it is clear that pollution is not the only determinant factor for birthweight. Other factors, such as income level, access to health facilities, race and education are all contributing factors. While the most polluted areas would seem to have the lowest birthweights, the most polluted areas tend to be in the most urban areas, which have the best access to health care. This counterintuitive correlation between pollution and health, shows that other factors such as income and education also play a large part in overall health in California. Aside from the urban areas, there is a general trend of low-birthweight babies throughout central California. This trend correlates strongly with the zones in California that are least educated and the poorest. This central zone through California is comprised of towns that are fairly rural and have poor access to medical facilities. All of these variables are strong factors in the overall picture of health in California.


James Sadd




Sherman Fairchild Foundation Grant

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