Using Geographic Information Systems to Create and Analyze Statistical Surfaces of Population and Risk for Environmental Justice Analysis

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Abstract:

Objective. Methodological issues associated with the conventional statistical approach to environmental justice research, such as scale of analysis, continue to make assessments of environmental injustice problematic. Geographic information systems (GIS) can be used to facilitate multiscale analysis through the generation of statistical surface representations of both socioeconomic character and environmental risk. Methods. As a case study, U.S. Bureau of the Census and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data sets were used to generate statistical surfaces of socioeconomic character and environmental risk for the southeast Pennsylvania region. Results. Analysis of these statistical surfaces reveals that socioeconomic status decreases with proximity to, and density of, hazardous facilities. Conclusions. Further research calls for incorporating other relevant information, such as amount and toxicity of toxic release, into GIS-based statistical surface representations of risk.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1540-6237.00083

Affiliations: University of Colorado

Publication date: March 1, 2002

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