Is there an association between Superfund sites and the socioeconomic makeup of the surrounding communities? This research analyzes the current economic and racial demographics of Illinois counties that contain Superfund sites. Specifically, variables that are indicators of environmental injustice are analyzed; e.g. race, median household income, and home ownership. Since the inception of the environmental justice movement in the late 1980s, studies have been conducted nationally and at state levels in Michigan, California, Ohio, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina (i.e. Cutter 2006; Mohai & Saha 2006; Pastor et al. 2004; Anderton et al. 1997; Bevc et al. 2007; Bowen et al. 1995). However, environmental justice research specific to the state of Illinois is largely unexplored. This research will better identify environmental disparities in rural Illinois counties that have little or no minority population. Additionally, this research adopts a distance-based spatial analysis approach in an attempt to achieve results more precise than previous unit-hazard coincidence analysis methods (Mohai & Saha 2006). Areal apportionment methodology is used to analyze demographic data from the 2000 United States (U.S.) Census Summary Files (SF1 and SF3) for the impacted counties in Illinois. This research uses ArcView GIS™ (Version 9.2) to create buffer zones of one-, two-, and five-miles centered on X, Y coordinates obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These uniform neighborhoods are used to determine percentages of racial minority, median household income, and home ownership within these radii. The results are then compared to percentages calculated from the remainder of the county population to establish foremost, if specific environmental injustice criteria are met and subsequently, examine how social and racial demographics within the buffer zone vary with respect to the distance from the Superfund site. This research yields essential data for urban and community planners within Illinois. First, this research identifies areas of environmental inequality to be targeted for future amelioration. Secondly, this research better characterizes the relationship between environmental hazards and surrounding communities, both urban and rural. Thirdly, this research will enable city planners to site future environmental hazards judiciously. Lastly, this research is a stepping-stone toward a more detailed longitudinal study of environmental justice in Illinois.
Digital Commons Citation
Maranville, Angela; Ting, Tih-Fen; and Zhang, Yang, "An Environmental Justice Analysis: Superfund Sites and Surrounding Communities in Illinois" (2008). Faculty & Staff Scholarship. 439.
Maranville, Angela R., Ting, Tih-Fen, & Zhang, Yang. (2008). Proceedings from the 4th Joint AESOP/ACSP Congress: Bridging the Divide: Celebrating the City. Chicago, IL