Mapping Environmental Justice Hotspots

A new map of Virginia illustrates the stark contrasts in pollution burdens depending on location.

June 18, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock

A new interactive map of Virginia identifies hotspots of environmental justice failures—where residents face disproportionate public health socioeconomic effects as the result of pollution.

An article by Sarah Vogelsong provides additional insight into the findings of the Mapping for Environmental Justice initiative, which worked with the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative and funding from the Earth Island Institute. According to Vogelsong, "the Virginia map assigns a 'cumulative environmental justice impact' score to each census tract in the commonwealth. The higher the score, the greater the tract’s overall environmental impacts and vulnerabilities are considered to be."

According to the initiative's website, parts of Virginia facing disproportionate environmental burdens are "nearly five times more likely to be exposed to air pollution from traffic and are 3.6 times more likely to live near a Superfund site" [emphasis from the original].

"Pollution burden includes data on ozone, particulate matter, lead paint, air toxics, traffic, mines, hazardous waste and high-risk chemical facilities and federal cleanup sites," explains Vogelsong.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021 in The Virginia Mercury

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