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Last Edited: 5/30/2012

Partner Research: EJSM


The Environmental Justice Screening Method (EJSM) was developed by Sadd et al. to examine the relative rank of cumulative impacts and social vulnerability within metropolitan regions based on more than simply the demographics of income and race. This powerful tool can be used to address the concerns of environmental justice advocates with a methodology more reflective of the on the ground reality — mainly that health risks are defined by a number of social, physical, and chemical hazards that cumulatively impact health. These hazards are not typically reflected in traditional chemical-by-chemical or source-specific assessments of health hazards.



The EJSM was devised using 23 indicators organized into 3 categories: (1) hazard proximity and land use; (2) air pollution exposure and estimated health risk; and (3) social and health vulnerability. Each of the three categories is then summarized into a cumulative impacts (CI) score for ranking neighborhoods in a manner that can inform stakeholders seeking to identify local areas that may warrant additional targeted efforts to address environmental justice concerns. A more detailed methodology is available in this manuscript.



Below are the final mapped results from the EJSM for the 6-county area under the jurisdiction of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). Only residential areas and sensitive land uses (such as schools and hospitals) are shown. Non-residential and industrial land uses are blocked out in gray.

Areas with high hazard proximity and land use scores tend to correspond with the most densely populated areas, and are often high minority, low-income neighborhoods (Figure A). Areas with elevated health risk and exposure scores are less clear, but do tend to cluster around industrial areas (Figure B).  Social and health vulnerability scores follow a well-documented pattern of residential segregation by race and class (Figure C).

Together, the three categories of indicators form a Cumulative Impact (CI) score (Figure D). The maps point to areas where environmental justice advocates have been very active (such as the San Fernando Valley), and to some areas that have received less attention (such as Pomona and parts of the Inland Valley).

While the results here are only shown for the Southern California area, the EJSM methodology is under development for the entire state.


Figure A: Hazard Proximity and Land Use Score

 EJSM Hazard Scores

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Figure B: Health Risk and Exposure Score

Health Risk and Exposure Score

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Figure C: Social and Health Vulnerability Score

 Social and Health Vulnerability Score

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Figure D: Cumulative Impact Score

 Cumulative Impact Score

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