Baltimore Ecosystem Study Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2012 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

A long-term perspective on polluting facilities and environmental justice in Baltimore
Boone, Christopher
Co-Authors: Geoff Buckley, Morgan Grove, and Michail Fragkias

Abstract: Purpose: This study examines the density of polluting industry by neighborhoods in Baltimore over the long term, from 1960 to 2010, to determine if high pollution burdens correspond spatially with expected demographic and housing variables predicted in the environmental justice literature. For 1960-1980 we use data on heavy industry from Dun and Bradstreet directories and for 1990-2010 the US EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory to calculate a Hazards Density Index. Drawing on the decennial censuses for 1960-2010, we populate census tracts from corresponding years with data on race, ethnicity, educational attainment, income, and housing tenure. Findings: Density of polluting industry is positively correlated with low-income neighborhoods and renter-occupied housing in 1960 and by 2010 with white, Hispanic, and low educational attainment populations. In general, over time density of polluting facilities shifts from an association with wealth to race and ethnicity while educational attainment remains a significant variable throughout. This study confirms earlier analyses on Baltimore that white neighborhoods are more likely than African-American neighborhoods (1990-2010) to contain polluting facilities but reveals for the first time that educational attainment is also significant. The paper concludes with a discussion of the Baltimore Sustainability Plan and its weak efforts to address persistent environmental injustice.