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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Abel, Troy D.

Second Advisor

Salazar, Debra J.

Third Advisor

Mookherjee, Debnath.


This research examines tensions in Smart Growth in Central Puget Sound, Washington, an early adopter of regional planning influenced by Smart Growth planning principles. I examine evidence of social equity, environmental exposure, and health outcomes. Using longitudinal geographic cluster analysis, longitudinal and cumulative air pollution analysis, and health assessment, I compare socioeconomic changes with environmental and health measures. My research indicates that economic inequality has increased over time and the region remains spatially divided by socioeconomic status and race and ethnicity, despite implementation of Smart Growth policies that were intended to improve social equity outcomes. Further, despite a trend of de-industrialization that has occurred within the region over time, air pollution risks have remained skewed and have spatially concentrated, with the adverse impacts of exposure falling disproportionately on struggling communities within the region. Exposure to cumulative air pollution risks remains high in areas targeted for more compact development. Finally, my research reveals that air pollution related health outcomes are worsening, and are associated with lower socioeconomic status and higher exposure, both of which are influenced by place. These results raise critical issues about the Central Puget Sound's Smart Growth planning efforts. Further, it reveals ways in which Smart Growth is falling short of meeting the visionary goal to transform our cities and regions into more equitable places.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Sustainable development--Economic aspects--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Regional planning--Economic aspects--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Environmental health--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Human ecology--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Environmental justice--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Public health--Washington (State)--Puget Sound; Air--Pollution--Washington (State)--Puget Sound

Geographic Coverage

Puget Sound (Wash.)




masters theses




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