Reporters at the Los Angeles Times have used data from the California EPA to put together a fascinating interactive map that shows levels of pollution, water toxicity, and ozone concentrations over California. Surprise — most of the environmental impact is around freeways.
You can visit the map to search for any region you'd like within California. In a related story, reporter Tony Barboza points out that the most polluted areas are also in low-income regions where immigrants live. These are areas where residents have little power to petition local government to clean up toxic waste, or bring up the quality of drinking water.
The rankings, however, are not based only on measures of environmental exposure. They also take into account socioeconomic characteristics and health data on residents to assess the overall vulnerability of communities. Those factors include poverty, education, unemployment, rates of asthma and low-birth-weight infants.
Putting all 19 criteria together, state officials say, gives the best indication of the environmental risks faced by California's most vulnerable populations. Government agencies could address those risks through a variety of measures, including environmental enforcement, cleanups and economic remedies, such as creating sustainable development projects to provide jobs.
In other words, this study has accounted for the fact that some populations are more vulnerable to toxins than others. People who have less money for medical care, for example, are going to be more affected by environmental toxins.
Politicians and community advocates hope that this map will help policymakers target vulnerable areas for environmental cleanup.
Read the whole story at the Los Angeles Times