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Special Issue "Advances in Environmental Justice"

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A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Charles W. Griffiths

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa
E-Mail
Interests: environmental justice, benefit-cost analysis, cost effectiveness analysis, risk analysis, voluntary programs, water quality valuation, air quality valuation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental Justice is a concept developed over the last three decades to address inequities in environmental protection. While often focused on the impacts of environmentally damaging activity (e.g., choosing the location of hazardous waste facilities) on minority and low-income communities, the concept is more broadly applied to the impacts of all environmental activity (including the development, execution, and enforcement of environmental laws) on all disadvantaged populations. The Environmental Justice movement has its roots in the U.S. but has spread to Europe and other parts of the world.

While many definitions of Environmental Justice reflect a call for “fair” or “equitable” treatment in environmental regulation and protection, exact metrics of what constitutes an Environmental Justice problem are often poorly defined. One common focus, used in an Executive Order by President Clinton, is “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects.”

This special issue will focus on advances in the field Environmental Justice. Articles that quantitatively measure the degree of environmental justice concern in a given situation and develop metrics to gauge improvements will be given special consideration, but all articles that address environmental issues in the U.S. and the world are solicited.

Charles W. Griffiths
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • environmental justice
  • equity
  • disproportionate adverse impacts
  • metrics
  • minority
  • low-income

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle A Framework for Integrating Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 2366-2385; doi:10.3390/ijerph8062366
Received: 2 June 2011 / Accepted: 16 June 2011 / Published: 22 June 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (735 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With increased interest in integrating environmental justice into the process for developing environmental regulations in the United States, analysts and decision makers are confronted with the question of what methods and data can be used to assess disproportionate environmental health impacts. However, as
[...] Read more.
With increased interest in integrating environmental justice into the process for developing environmental regulations in the United States, analysts and decision makers are confronted with the question of what methods and data can be used to assess disproportionate environmental health impacts. However, as a first step to identifying data and methods, it is important that analysts understand what information on equity impacts is needed for decision making. Such knowledge originates from clearly stated equity objectives and the reflection of those objectives throughout the analytical activities that characterize Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), a process that is traditionally used to inform decision making. The framework proposed in this paper advocates structuring analyses to explicitly provide pre-defined output on equity impacts. Specifically, the proposed framework emphasizes: (a) defining equity objectives for the proposed regulatory action at the onset of the regulatory process, (b) identifying specific and related sub-objectives for key analytical steps in the RIA process, and (c) developing explicit analytical/research questions to assure that stated sub-objectives and objectives are met. In proposing this framework, it is envisioned that information on equity impacts informs decision-making in regulatory development, and that this is achieved through a systematic and consistent approach that assures linkages between stated equity objectives, regulatory analyses, selection of policy options, and the design of compliance and enforcement activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)
Open AccessArticle Distributional Benefit Analysis of a National Air Quality Rule
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 1872-1892; doi:10.3390/ijerph8061872
Received: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 21 May 2011 / Published: 1 June 2011
PDF Full-text (965 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Under Executive Order 12898, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must perform environmental justice (EJ) reviews of its rules and regulations. EJ analyses address the hypothesis that environmental disamenities are experienced disproportionately by poor and/or minority subgroups. Such analyses typically use communities as
[...] Read more.
Under Executive Order 12898, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must perform environmental justice (EJ) reviews of its rules and regulations. EJ analyses address the hypothesis that environmental disamenities are experienced disproportionately by poor and/or minority subgroups. Such analyses typically use communities as the unit of analysis. While community-based approaches make sense when considering where polluting sources locate, they are less appropriate for national air quality rules affecting many sources and pollutants that can travel thousands of miles. We compare exposures and health risks of EJ-identified individuals rather than communities to analyze EPA’s Heavy Duty Diesel (HDD) rule as an example national air quality rule. Air pollutant exposures are estimated within grid cells by air quality models; all individuals in the same grid cell are assigned the same exposure. Using an inequality index, we find that inequality within racial/ethnic subgroups far outweighs inequality between them. We find, moreover, that the HDD rule leaves between-subgroup inequality essentially unchanged. Changes in health risks depend also on subgroups’ baseline incidence rates, which differ across subgroups. Thus, health risk reductions may not follow the same pattern as reductions in exposure. These results are likely representative of other national air quality rules as well. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)
Open AccessArticle Making the Environmental Justice Grade: The Relative Burden of Air Pollution Exposure in the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(6), 1755-1771; doi:10.3390/ijerph8061755
Received: 12 April 2011 / Accepted: 6 May 2011 / Published: 25 May 2011
Cited by 32 | PDF Full-text (541 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper assesses whether the Clean Air Act and its Amendments have been equally successful in ensuring the right to healthful air quality in both advantaged and disadvantaged communities in the United States. Using a method to rank air quality established by the
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This paper assesses whether the Clean Air Act and its Amendments have been equally successful in ensuring the right to healthful air quality in both advantaged and disadvantaged communities in the United States. Using a method to rank air quality established by the American Lung Association in its 2009 State of the Air report along with EPA air quality data, we assess the environmental justice dimensions of air pollution exposure and access to air quality information in the United States. We focus on the race, age, and poverty demographics of communities with differing levels of ozone and particulate matter exposure, as well as communities with and without air quality information. Focusing on PM2.5 and ozone, we find that within areas covered by the monitoring networks, non-Hispanic blacks are consistently overrepresented in communities with the poorest air quality. The results for older and younger age as well as poverty vary by the pollution metric under consideration. Rural areas are typically outside the bounds of air quality monitoring networks leaving large segments of the population without information about their ambient air quality. These results suggest that substantial areas of the United States lack monitoring data, and among areas where monitoring data are available, low income and minority communities tend to experience higher ambient pollution levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)
Open AccessArticle Comparing Distributions of Environmental Outcomes for Regulatory Environmental Justice Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(5), 1707-1726; doi:10.3390/ijerph8051707
Received: 19 April 2011 / Revised: 10 May 2011 / Accepted: 12 May 2011 / Published: 24 May 2011
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (310 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Economists have long been interested in measuring distributional impacts of policy interventions. As environmental justice (EJ) emerged as an ethical issue in the 1970s, the academic literature has provided statistical analyses of the incidence and causes of various environmental outcomes as they relate
[...] Read more.
Economists have long been interested in measuring distributional impacts of policy interventions. As environmental justice (EJ) emerged as an ethical issue in the 1970s, the academic literature has provided statistical analyses of the incidence and causes of various environmental outcomes as they relate to race, income, and other demographic variables. In the context of regulatory impacts, however, there is a lack of consensus regarding what information is relevant for EJ analysis, and how best to present it. This paper helps frame the discussion by suggesting a set of questions fundamental to regulatory EJ analysis, reviewing past approaches to quantifying distributional equity, and discussing the potential for adapting existing tools to the regulatory context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)
Open AccessArticle Playing It Safe: Assessing Cumulative Impact and Social Vulnerability through an Environmental Justice Screening Method in the South Coast Air Basin, California
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2011, 8(5), 1441-1459; doi:10.3390/ijerph8051441
Received: 22 March 2011 / Revised: 15 April 2011 / Accepted: 20 April 2011 / Published: 6 May 2011
Cited by 43 | PDF Full-text (1875 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and state authorities like the California Air Resources Board (CARB), have sought to address the concerns of environmental justice (EJ) advocates who argue that chemical-by-chemical and source-specific assessments of potential health risks of
[...] Read more.
Regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and state authorities like the California Air Resources Board (CARB), have sought to address the concerns of environmental justice (EJ) advocates who argue that chemical-by-chemical and source-specific assessments of potential health risks of environmental hazards do not reflect the multiple environmental and social stressors faced by vulnerable communities. We propose an Environmental Justice Screening Method (EJSM) as a relatively simple, flexible and transparent way to examine the relative rank of cumulative impacts and social vulnerability within metropolitan regions and determine environmental justice areas based on more than simply the demographics of income and race. We specifically organize 23 indicator metrics into three categories: (1) hazard proximity and land use; (2) air pollution exposure and estimated health risk; and (3) social and health vulnerability. For hazard proximity, the EJSM uses GIS analysis to create a base map by intersecting land use data with census block polygons, and calculates hazard proximity measures based on locations within various buffer distances. These proximity metrics are then summarized to the census tract level where they are combined with tract centroid-based estimates of pollution exposure and health risk and socio-economic status (SES) measures. The result is a cumulative impacts (CI) score for ranking neighborhoods within regions that can inform diverse stakeholders seeking to identify local areas that might need targeted regulatory strategies to address environmental justice concerns. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview The Role of Cumulative Risk Assessment in Decisions about Environmental Justice
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2010, 7(11), 4037-4049; doi:10.3390/ijerph7114037
Received: 15 October 2010 / Revised: 29 October 2010 / Accepted: 17 November 2010 / Published: 18 November 2010
Cited by 24 | PDF Full-text (367 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is strong presumptive evidence that people living in poverty and certain racial and ethnic groups bear a disproportionate burden of environmental health risk. Many have argued that conducting formal assessments of the health risk experienced by affected communities is both unnecessary and
[...] Read more.
There is strong presumptive evidence that people living in poverty and certain racial and ethnic groups bear a disproportionate burden of environmental health risk. Many have argued that conducting formal assessments of the health risk experienced by affected communities is both unnecessary and counterproductive—that instead of analyzing the situation our efforts should be devoted to fixing obvious problems and rectifying observable wrongs. We contend that formal assessment of cumulative health risks from combined effects of chemical and nonchemical stressors is a valuable tool to aid decision makers in choosing risk management options that are effective, efficient, and equitable. If used properly, cumulative risk assessment need not impair decision makers’ discretion, nor should it be used as an excuse for doing nothing in the face of evident harm. Good policy decisions require more than good intentions; they necessitate analysis of risk-related information along with careful consideration of economic issues, ethical and moral principles, legal precedents, political realities, cultural beliefs, societal values, and bureaucratic impediments. Cumulative risk assessment can provide a systematic and impartial means for informing policy decisions about environmental justice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Environmental Justice)

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