Presentation Title

toxiCITY: Environmental Injustice in Los Angeles County

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Keywords

environmental justice, urban studies, Los Angeles, GIS, TSDF, Toxics Release Inventory, Superfund Sites

Department

Political Science

Major

Political Science and Economics

Abstract

In this article, I examine the distribution of toxic hazards across Los Angeles County. To do so, I construct a multivariate GIS model at the census tract-level using exposure surrogates chosen to represent ambient toxic chemical exposure. I ask whether the way we design cities discriminates against the health of racial minority and low-income residents by analyzing demographics and medical mechanisms of toxicity. I first explore the validity and reliability of toxic exposure measures used in existing environmental justice literature. While most previous studies employ the use of a single toxicity variable, I evaluate a range of surrogates and assemble a novel index of urban toxicity. In so doing, I question the bivariate construction of extant environmental justice models (whether at least one toxic hazard is present in an area or not) and suggest the importance of scrutinizing the density of toxic chemicals in urban areas. I conclude that 1) Latino and African American residents are significantly more likely to live near toxic hazards, 2) low-income households are disproportionately located in toxic neighborhoods, but 3) the relationship to aggregate ambient toxic exposure is not clear. I explain how careful separation of residential and industrial zones, innovative architectural designs and planning principles, and efforts to cut manmade emissions could further both local and global environmental justice efforts.

Faculty Mentor

J. Christopher Soper

Funding Source or Research Program

Political Science Honors Program

Presentation Session

Session A

Location

Plaza Classroom 191

Start Date

24-3-2017 4:45 PM

End Date

24-3-2017 5:00 PM

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Mar 24th, 4:45 PM Mar 24th, 5:00 PM

toxiCITY: Environmental Injustice in Los Angeles County

Plaza Classroom 191

In this article, I examine the distribution of toxic hazards across Los Angeles County. To do so, I construct a multivariate GIS model at the census tract-level using exposure surrogates chosen to represent ambient toxic chemical exposure. I ask whether the way we design cities discriminates against the health of racial minority and low-income residents by analyzing demographics and medical mechanisms of toxicity. I first explore the validity and reliability of toxic exposure measures used in existing environmental justice literature. While most previous studies employ the use of a single toxicity variable, I evaluate a range of surrogates and assemble a novel index of urban toxicity. In so doing, I question the bivariate construction of extant environmental justice models (whether at least one toxic hazard is present in an area or not) and suggest the importance of scrutinizing the density of toxic chemicals in urban areas. I conclude that 1) Latino and African American residents are significantly more likely to live near toxic hazards, 2) low-income households are disproportionately located in toxic neighborhoods, but 3) the relationship to aggregate ambient toxic exposure is not clear. I explain how careful separation of residential and industrial zones, innovative architectural designs and planning principles, and efforts to cut manmade emissions could further both local and global environmental justice efforts.