Assessing the Impact of Airborne Toxic Releases on Populations with Special Needs
In this article, we 1) develop and demonstrate an approach for assessing the population at risk to airborne releases of extremely hazardous substances, 2) examine the relationship between potential sources of chemical hazards and the special needs population in a medium-sized metropolitan area (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and 3) determine whether the distribution of environmental risks disproportionately impacts the special needs population. Our approach provides a comprehensive view of the risk burden imposed on the population by examining the effects of multiple sources of toxic releases. Disproportionate impacts are evaluated by comparing the existing distribution of the special needs population at risk to 1,000 randomly simulated distribution patterns. The results indicate that a significantly high proportion of the special needs population resides in areas susceptible to worst-case toxic releases.