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Toward Environmental Justice: Spatial Equity in Ohio and Cleveland

Citation: Bowen, William M. et al. 1995. ?Toward Environmental Justice: Spatial Equity in Ohio and Cleveland.? Annals of the Association of American Geographers 85(4): 641-663.

A growing body of research documents the inequitable impact of environmental hazards on poor and minority communities. This paper uses the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory for 1987?-1990 and the 1990 Census of Population and Housing to analyze the spatial distribution of toxic industrial pollution and demographic groups in Ohio. In apparent support of the previous body of research, we report high correlations between racial variables and level of toxic release at the county level. The highest levels of toxic release in Ohio occur in the state’s most urban counties, fourteen of which contain approximately 90 percent of the state’s minority population. However, a census-tract examination of the most urban of these counties, Cuyahoga, reveals no relationships between race and toxicity. The tract-level data do provide some evidence of income-environment inequity, and these findings prompt several methodological advisories for further research. The principal conclusion of the paper is that spatial scale is critical in studies of industrial environmental hazards and environmental justice.

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