Methods for Environmental Justice Research
Improved Environmental Justice Mapping Tool Released by the EPA
By Robert Clinton, 2015-06-22
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has retired its EJView interface in favor of a new, more informative and user-friendly screening and mapping tool called EJScreen. Released earlier this month, this free digital mapping software allows consumers to plot specific points in the United States and create reports detailing the area's demographic and environmental profile. Once these 12 environmental indicators, including the location's ozone, traffic, respiratory hazards, and air toxins cancer risk levels as measured by the National Scale Air Toxins Assessment, and 6 demographic indicators, including percentage of low income, minority, less than high school educated, linguistically isolated, and elderly population have been compiled for the inputted location, the user is able to compare these statistics to those of the EPA region, state, and nation. Though the data may be somewhat difficult to understand for those with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics, this program is an important step in the right direction by a governmental agency with a strategic plan to address environmental justice issues in the United States.

The EPA, in being fully transparent and allowing users to juxtapose demographic data with environmental hazards, has created the space for a dialogue where environmental racism can be clearly proven via EJScreen's color-coded maps and comparative tables. In plotting addresses within some of the United States' historically minority and/or low-income areas, it becomes clear that pollution and other effects of mankind's exploitation of the natural environment most negatively affect these communities. Armed with government-produced and indisputable information, EJScreen will hopefully empower these communities to rise against their continued mistreatment. Learn more, and create your own map, by visiting the EPA website here.
Image: © z_amir