Environmental Justice for All: Assessing Cumulative Impacts to Understand the Relationship between Environmental Burden, Social Vulnerability and Disease
Kristin Osiecki, Rice University
Justin T. Denney, Rice University
The prevailing school of thought is that environmental injustices exist even as the debate continues over the mixed results from studies investigating environmental exposure, race and poverty. With the advent of cumulative impact models, a scoring system based on geographic, socioeconomic, public health and environmental hazard criteria from publically available data shows promise in identifying areas of environmental burden and social vulnerability. Our study will 1) investigate the CalEnviroScreen model currently used in California to assess cumulative impacts in the Houston Metropolitan Area 2) incorporate medical records to better understand the impact of environmental modeling on the distribution of heart and respiratory illness and 3) integrate spatial and statistical analysis using impact scores derived from the CalEnviroScreen model. Expanding current models and methods has the potential to address current issues in environmental justice research and provide conclusive results that have proved elusive.