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Local environmental concerns among communities in North-East England and South Hessen, Germany: the influence of proximity to industry

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This descriptive study of local environmental and material concerns in neighbourhoods at varying proximity to industry takes account of social and economic factors, thus linking debates about local environmental concerns and environmental injustice. A postal questionnaire survey about local environmental issues was carried out in eight neighbourhoods, five in North-East England and three in South Hessen, Germany. The study areas varied in distance from polluting industry. One area each in South Hessen and North-East England was situated close to industry and considerable concerns about the potential health and environmental consequences of such proximity had existed for several years. Socio-economic data showed a high degree of variation in the North-East sample (n = 1362) but not in the South Hessen sample (n = 1078). Environmental concerns were influenced by proximity to industry and socio-economic status. When education and unemployment were controlled for, proximity to industry had an effect on environmental concerns in both regions. However, differences in the type and extent of concerns were observed. Whereas North-East residents closest to industry were most concerned about pollution, South Hessen residents closest to industry were most concerned about pollution and the risks of industrial accidents. The inclusion of industrial areas in two different regions of Europe reinforces arguments about the relevance of specific local factors - in this case poverty and industry - in framing public risk perceptions.
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Keywords: environmental inequity; industrial pollution; risk perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Population and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 2: Department of Chemistry Science, University of Hamburg, Germany

Publication date: 2003-03-01

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