GeoHealth Lab

Research Topics

  • Environmental Health/Exposure

  • Health Disparities/Environmental Justice

  • Health/Medical Geography

  • Exposure to Air Pollution

  • Racial/Ethnic Segregation

  • Human Mobility

Research Methods

  • Geographic Information Science (GIS)

  • Geospatial Data Analytics

  • Community-Engaged Research

  • Participatory Air Monitoring

  • Mixed Methods

  • Spatial Statistics

Community-Engaged, Participatory Exposure Monitoring Using GPS-Enabled Portable Air Pollution Sensors to Address Environmental Health Disparity

PI Dr. Yoo Min Park (Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, ECU) & Co-PI Dr. Sinan Sousan (Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, ECU)

Many Latino/Hispanic people in eastern North Carolina are recent immigrants who have moved for employment, and many work in highly polluting industries, such as construction, restaurants, manufacturing, and agriculture, and live in manufactured housing. However, they are often underrepresented in environmental health research and policy decision-making processes.

This project focuses on engaging Latino/Hispanic people in eastern North Carolina in personal air monitoring by partnering with a nonprofit community organization (Association of Mexicans in North Carolina). It seeks to 1) increase their awareness of indoor/outdoor air quality by enabling them to collect data in their immediate surroundings and actively participate in data interpretation, and 2) ultimately foster behavioral changes to reduce their exposure and health risks. It also aims to identify the locations and times at which Latino/Hispanic people experience high exposure and the activities that lead to pollution peaks by combining their geo-referenced air pollution data and travel-activity diaries using GIS. To do so, it uses a GeoAir2 air monitor––a new, user-friendly, GPS-enabled, portable air sensor that does not require a connection to a local Wi-Fi network or technical proficiency from users.

Funding source

This project was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number P30ES025128.


  • Park, Y.M., Chavez, D., Sousan, S., Figueroa-Bernal, N., Alvarez, J.R., Rocha-Peralta, J. (2022). Personal Exposure Monitoring Using GPS-Enabled Portable Air Pollution Sensors: A Strategy to Promote Citizen Awareness and Behavioral Changes Regarding Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. Full-Text Access to a View-Only Version

  • Streuber, D., Park, Y.M., Sousan, S. (2022). Laboratory and Field Evaluations of the GeoAir2 Air Quality Monitor for use in Indoor Environments. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 22(8), 220119.

  • Park, Y.M., Sousan, S., Streuber, D., & Zhao, K. (2021). GeoAir – A Novel Portable, GPS-Enabled, Low-Cost Air-Pollution Sensor: Design Strategies to Facilitate Citizen Science Research and Geospatial Assessments of Personal Exposure. Sensors, 21(11), 3761.

Spatiotemporal Approaches to Understanding the Effect of Racial/Ethnic Segregation on Disparities in Exposure to Air Pollution

While many previous studies have examined the effect of residential segregation on racial disparities in environmental exposure and health, little is known about how segregation in nonresidential contexts impacts these inequalities. To fill this gap, this project proposed a new comprehensive notion of segregation––“multi-contextual segregation” (segregation occurring in various everyday contexts)––and a new spatiotemporal method for assessing the association between multi-contextual segregation and the disparity in exposure to air pollution. Using individual-level daily travel pattern data, this research found that the association between segregation and racial disparities in air pollution exposure could differ by time of day and race. During the daytime, people in the Atlanta metropolitan area were more racially integrated for work in high-traffic areas (downtown), and thus, all racial groups shared similarly high levels of traffic-related air pollution. In contrast, no recognizable racial integration was observed in large job clusters in suburbs with relatively low levels of air pollution. At night, if non-Hispanic White people experienced higher levels of residential segregation, they were more likely to experience low exposure. However, this beneficial effect was not found in other racial groups. This uneven spatial distribution of racial groups may be closely related to the regional transit system, which was built to prevent people of color from reaching White-flight neighborhoods in the suburbs and exurbs. The limited daily mobility of Black people in the inner city entrapped them in highly polluted areas both during the daytime and nighttime. These findings suggest that policies for establishing an extensive and equitable public transit system should be implemented together with policies for residential mixes among racial groups to mitigate environmental health disparities.

Funding source

This project was supported by an National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (Award Number: 1735295) and an American Association of Geographers Dissertation Research Grant.


  • Park, Y.M. (2020). Assessing Personal Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution Using Individual Travel-Activity Diary Data and an On-Road Source Air Dispersion Model. Health & Place, 63: 102351.

  • Park, Y.M. & Kwan, M.-P. (2020). Understanding Racial Disparities in Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Considering Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Population Distribution. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(3), 908.

  • Park, Y.M. & Kwan, M.-P. (2018). Beyond Residential Segregation: A Spatiotemporal Approach to Examining Multi-Contextual Segregation. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 71, 98-108.

  • Park, Y.M. & Kwan, M.-P. (2017). Individual Exposure Estimates May Be Erroneous When Spatiotemporal Variability of Air Pollution and Human Mobility Are Ignored. Health & Place, 43, 85-94.

  • Park, Y.M. & Kwan, M.-P. (2017). Multi-Contextual Segregation and Environmental Justice Research: Toward Fine-Scale Spatiotemporal Approaches. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(10), 1205.

Identifying Spatio-Temporal Trends in COVID-19 and Socially Vulnerable Communities to Support Decision-Making for the Equitable Vaccine Distribution

Multiple PIs Dr. Gregory Kearney (Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, ECU) and Dr. Maria Clay (Department of Bioethics and Interdisciplinary Studies, ECU) and Co-PI Dr. Yoo Min Park (Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment, ECU)

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented hardships and an increased sense of urgency to protect the health of eastern North Carolina communities. These factors have negatively impacted resources while putting a tremendous strain on healthcare facilities, providers, and academic institutions. The combined efforts between Vidant Health (a not-for-profit healthcare provider) and ECU are critically needed to monitor population health, identify the services and needs of most vulnerable communities, and inform decision-making for the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine using geospatial data analysis and data visualization tools.

The purpose of this project is to foster collaboration between Vidant Health and ECU and combine resources and efforts to develop advanced geospatial data analysis, mapping, and data visualization tools that can be used to make data-driven decisions concerning COVID-19 and population health in eastern NC.

Funding source

This project was supported by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Research Fund via the 2020 COVID-19 Recovery Act, North Carolina House Bill 1043 (Session Law 2020-4).


  • Park, Y.M., Kearney, G.D., Wall, B., Jones, K., Howard, R., & Hylock, R. (2021). COVID-19 Deaths in the United States: Shifts in Hot Spots over the Three Phases of the Pandemic and the Spatiotemporally Varying Impact of Pandemic Vulnerability. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(17), 8987.

  • Kearney, G., Jones, K., Park, Y.M., Howard, R., Hylock, R., Wall, B., Clay, M., & Schmidt, P. (2021). COVID-19: A Vaccine Priority Index Mapping Tool for Rapidly Assessing Priority Populations in North Carolina. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 13(3).

  • Kearney, G.D., Hylock, R., Park, Y.M., Jones, K., Wall, B., Howard, R., Iyer, P., Clay, M., Endres-Dighe, S., Stoner, M.C.D., Li, L., Cajka, J., and Rhea, S. (2022). Regional Trends of COVID-19-Like Illness Related Emergency Department Visits in North Carolina (March 1, 2020 ¬– November 30, 2020). North Carolina Medical Journal. 84(1), 54-60.

Community Air Quality Monitoring Using Low-Cost Air Sensors and Citizen Science Approaches in Environmental Justice Communities

PI Dr. Yoo Min Park

The goal of this community-engaged project is to establish a community air monitoring network in eastern NC using a citizen-science approach and low-cost stationary air monitors (PurpleAir). It also seeks to identify pollution hot spots using GIS and share results with the communities to identify community-wide solutions. In partnership with a non- profit Clean AIRE NC and Pitt County public schools in North Carolina, air monitors have been installed at 14 schools to assist science teachers with the development of their science curriculum utilizing the air monitors.

Funding source

This project was supported by the Office of Community Engagement and Research at East Carolina University.


Mapping Accessibility with Dignity: An Inclusive, Equitable University Environment for People with Disabilities

PI Dr. Yoo Min Park & Co-PI Dr. Joonkoo Yun (Department of Kinesiology, ECU)

This project proposes to integrate research, teaching, and service to create an inclusive, accessible East Carolina University (ECU) campus. By bridging geography, disability studies, and health and human performance studies, this project aims to produce an interactive, web-based campus indoor map to support the accessibility of individuals with disabilities. It also uses a participatory approach to mapping the locations of ADA-compliant entrances and bathrooms as a strategy to engage students in creating an inclusive university environment. By participating in collaborative data collection and mapping, students will identify potential challenges for individuals with disabilities, critically assess the quality of accessibility, and learn about the value of campus inclusion. This learning activity and multidisciplinary research opportunities will contribute to maximizing student success and prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and values to appreciate diversity and inclusion and become active and socially responsible citizens in creating an inclusive and equitable society.

Funding source

Diversity and Inclusion Research and Scholarship Program Seed Grant, Office for Equity and Diversity, East Carolina University.