Report links race, income with environmental hazards in Massachusetts|
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Source: Eureka Alert
Download the report at: http://www.nupr.neu.edu/news/0012/environment.pdf (note: this is in PDF format).
EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 8 JANUARY 2001 AT 00:01 ET US
Contact: Liz Alcock, Laura Schmidt
Report links race, income with environmental hazards in Massachusetts
Environmentally hazardous sites and facilities are disproportionately located in communities of color and
lower-income communities, according to "Unequal Exposure to Ecological Hazards: Environmental Injustices in the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts", a new report by Daniel R. Faber, associate professor of Sociology, Northeastern
University, and Eric J. Krieg, assistant professor of Sociology, Buffalo State College.
"An analysis of 370 communities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reveals that these populations live
each day with substantially greater risk of exposure to environmental health hazards," said Project Director Daniel
Faber. "If you live in a community of color in Massachusetts, for example, the chances are 19 times higher that you
live in one of the 25 most environmentally-burdened communities in the state."
Faber notes that the report is the first to provide a method for ranking the environmental burden of communities in
the state, as well as the first to measure cumulative exposure to environmental hazards of all kinds in Massachusetts.
1.Communities where people of color make up 15 percent or more of the total population average more than
four times the number of hazardous waste sites as communities with less than 5 percent people of color.
2.Communities where people of color make up 25 percent or more of the total population average nearly five
times as many pounds of chemical emissions from industrial facilities per square mile, compared to
communities where less than five percent of the population are people of color.
3.Communities with median household incomes of less than $30,000 average nearly seven times as many
pounds of chemical emissions from industrial facilities per square mile than communities with median
household incomes of $40,000 or more.
4.Communities with median household incomes of less than $30,000 average nearly 2.5 times more waste sites
than communities with median household incomes of $40,000 or more. They also average more than four
times as many waste sites per square mile.
"Clearly, not all Massachusetts residents enjoy equal access to a clean environment. Communities most heavily
burdened with environmentally hazardous industrial facilities and sites are overwhelmingly minority and
lower-income. Governmental action is urgently required to address these disparities," says Dr. Daniel Faber.
To schedule an interview with Dr. Daniel Faber, please call 617-373-2878. To download a copy of the report, go to
http://www.nupr.neu.edu/news/0012/environment.pdf (note: this is in PDF format).
"Unequal Exposure to Ecological Hazards: Environmental Injustices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" by
Daniel R. Faber and Eric J. Krieg explores whether environmentally hazardous industrial facilities, power plants,
municipal solid waste combustors (incinerators), toxic waste sites, landfills, and trash transfer stations are unequally
distributed with respect to the income and/or racial composition of a Massachusetts community. The co-authors
analyzed exposure rates of 370 communities--including cities and towns throughout the state, sub-towns or
neighborhoods in Boston, and Cape Cod--to the types of environmentally hazardous industrial facilities and sites listed
The authors used data from the 1990 U.S. Census, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the
Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Institute, in addition to data collected from the Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection in the spring and summer months of 2000.
Class status of a community was determined by median household income: Low income - $0 to $29,999;
Medium-low income - $30,000 to $39,999; Medium-high income - $40,000 to $49,999; and High income - $50,000
The co-authors’ recommendations follow:
1.The state should pass an environmental justice law that will ensure equal protection and additional resources
for overburdened areas.
2.The Department of Environmental Protection should maintain its moratorium on new landfills and incinerators.
3.The state should incorporate environmental justice into all existing regulations.
4.The state should review, and when necessary, halt the provision of economic development incentives for
projects that will contribute more pollution to already overburdened areas.
5.The state should track and monitor environmental disparities.
6.City officials and public health boards should consider issues of environmental justice in their decision-making
7.The state should reduce pollution overall and adopt the Precautionary Principle over standard risk-assessment
procedures when addressing environmental issues in overburdened communities.
8.The state should increase the level of resources for the Department of Environmental Protection and the
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.
Dr. Faber and Dr. Krieg conducted their research under the auspices of the Philanthropy and Environmental Justice
Research Project at Northeastern University. Print copies of the report are available for $4.00 each. Please contact
Dr. Faber at 617-373-2878.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a national research university that is student-centered, practice-oriented,
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