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Environmental Justice

"Environmental justice" can be defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implantation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. A primary goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

Minority demographics are just one piece of data used in helping to understand environmental justice. Others include an educational level less than high school, low income, linguistic isolation, and individuals under age 5 or over age 64.

The Environmental Protection Agency created EJSCREEN, a tool to assist with understanding environmental impacts on vulnerable communities. Some of the indicators that can adversely impact these populations include ozone levels, particulate matter, lead paint, proximity to traffic, waste sites, and point source discharges to rivers and streams. Understanding the relationship between these potential environmental exposures across the landscape can help direct resources and actions to assist in the protection of vulnerable populations. Although the tool is just a beginning in understanding the spatial relationship of environmental stressors and populations, it is an important one in protecting human health and ensuring that all communities are treated fairly.

Last modified: 
03/21/2016 - 15:23


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Justice SCREEN: 20xx.