A spatial evaluation of socio demographics surrounding National Priorities List sites in Florida using a distance-based approach

A spatial evaluation of socio demographics surrounding National Priorities List sites in Florida using a distance-based approach
By: Greg Kearney and Gebre-Egziabher Kiros
Source: International Journal of Health Geographics
Abstract:
BACKGROUND: Over the last two decades, various spatial techniques have been demonstrated using geographical information systems (GIS) to adequately estimate and characterize inequities of minority populations living near environmentally hazardous facilities. However, these methods have produced mixed results. In this study, we use recently developed variations of the “distance based” approach to spatially evaluate and compare demographic and socioeconomic disparities surrounding the worst hazardous waste sites in Florida.
METHODS: We used data from the 2000 US Census Bureau and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to identify selected socio and economic variables within one (1) mile of 71 National Priorities List (NPL) or Superfund sites in Florida. ArcMap (ESRI, v. 9.2) was used to map the centroid locations of each of the NPL sites as well as identify and estimate the number of host and non-host tracts. The unit of analysis in this study was at the census tract level. Logistic regression (SAS v9.1.3) was used to determine if race/ethnicity and socioeconomic indicators are significant predictors of the location of NPL sites.
RESULTS: There were significant differences in race/ethnicity composition and socio-economic factors between NPL host census tracts and non-host census tracts in Florida. The percentages of Blacks (OR = 5.7, p < 0.001), the percentage of Hispanic/Latino (OR = 5.84, p < 0.001), and percent employed in blue collar occupations (OR = 2.7, p < 0.01) were significant predictors of location of NPL facilities. CONCLUSION: The recently developed distance-based method supports previous studies and suggests that race and ethnicity play substantial roles in where hazardous facilities are located in Florida. Recommendations include using distance-based methods to evaluate socio and demographic characteristics surrounding other less known environmental hazardous facilities, such as landfills, or Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) sites.

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