The EPA has recently released a new environmental justice screening and mapping tool, called EJSCREEN. The tool is likely to be a help to a wide array of professionals working in the health sector and beyond. Climate for Health leaders know first-hand the value of protecting the most susceptible populations. The tool is able to indicate geographic areas with these vulnerable populations overlapping with areas of environmental concerns. It incorporates 12 environmental indicators, including air and water, and a host of demographic indicators. While the tool is not perfect, it serves a purpose of getting an overview of conditions on the ground. Even Dr. Bob Bullard, the "Father of Environmental Justice," has been involved in the process of building the tool. As the Huffington Post reports below, Dr. Bullard states: "Kudos to the EPA for sticking with its commitment made to environmental justice leaders in early NEJAC (National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee) meetings way back in the mid-1990s to develop a user-friendly tool to identify EJ 'hot-spot' neighborhoods. It is important to note that the idea of an EJ screening tool came from community leaders." Climate for Health leaders And you can check out the tool here.
By Marcia G. Yerman I September 8, 2015
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released the EJ Screening and Mapping tool -- and it is amazing. Five years in the making, Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator said,
"EJSCREEN has been a valuable resource for EPA to advance our commitment to protect Americans most vulnerable to pollution. I'm excited to share this tool with the public to broaden its impact, build transparency, and foster collaboration with partners working to achieve environmental justice."
The tool will not only empower what the EPA terms "stakeholders" -- such as state governments, educational researchers, and grant writers -- it will be a game changer for grassroots activists at the hyperlocal level.
The premise is built on using data gathered from Environmental and Demographic Indicators, which is then overlapped to yield an Environmental Justice Index. The result shows areas of vulnerable populations juxtaposed with hot spots of environmental concerns.
Vulnerable populations are defined as residents that have more stress in their lives and less resources to cope with them. An example would be no hospitals in their neighborhood.
There are twelve Environmental Indicators. They include air pollution factors such as inhalation of particulate matter and ozone, which leads to cancer, respiratory disease, and neurological damage. Also accounted for are the exposure to lead paint, proximity to traffic, and geographic relationship to hazardous sites.
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