Environmental Justice in Cook County, IL: Air and Land Pollution
Pagone, Frank Joseph
MetadataShow full item record
Environmental justice (EJ) is the equality in distribution and impact of environmental hazards. The overall goal of this research study was to perform a macro-scale environmental justice analysis for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health effects in Cook County, IL to steer targeted interventions and health improvement measures for socio-economically disadvantaged communities with a high environmental pollution burden. We aimed to accomplish our goals by collecting community-level risk perception data for environmental, neighborhood and health threats in Southeastern Cook County (SCC), calculating the diesel particulate matter (DPM) excess inhalation cancer and non-cancer risks throughout Cook County to determine if there are environmental justice areas due to exposure to DPM, and performing a macro-scale geostatistical data analysis to spatially analyze the USEPA’s 2011 NATA Cancer Risk data, hazardous waste site data (Brownfield, Superfund, etc.), diesel particulate matter emissions and risk data, and demographic information for Cook County. The environmental indicators/issues ranked the highest by all five community partners in SCC included air pollution from documented industrial sources, air pollution from undocumented industrial sources, surface water run-off from contaminated areas, and undocumented hazardous waste sites in the neighborhood. The neighborhood well-being indicators that were ranked as having the highest concern to all partners included accessibility to quality education, accessibility to healthy food options, employment opportunities for minimum wage to professional salaries, poverty rate in the neighborhood, and high unemployment rate in the neighborhood. The health endpoints of greatest concern were cancer incidence, heart disease, and asthma. The Cook County census tract level DPM Excess cancer risks calculated are much greater than all the carcinogenic risk calculated in the 2011 NATA, which does not include the DPM risk. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients indicated that weak significant correlations were found between DPM cancer and non-cancer risks and percent Hispanic/Latino (0.2174 (p<.0001)). Correlation rankings between the USEPA’s 2011 NATA Cancer Risk data, hazardous waste site data (Brownfield, Superfund, etc.), diesel particulate matter emissions and risk data, and demographic information for Cook County do not indicate an overall statistically significant relationship between environmental pollution and hardship index. These results support the combined macro and micro scale analysis approach, with the necessity for focus to be on both the entire county as well as more specific locations to steer public policy for exposure/risk reduction.
SubjectEnvironmental justice, risk assessment, GIS