262734 Using GIS to assess environmental risk for Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County

Monday, October 29, 2012

Brittany Morey, MPH, CHES, CPH , Department of Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Background: One possible upstream contributor to poor health outcomes among Pacific Islanders (PIs) is proximity to environmental hazards. If PIs are disproportionately exposed to high amounts of pollution, and have less access to health-promoting green space, it is an issue of environmental justice that must be addressed. Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine if PI communities experience environmental injustice due to their proximity to environmental hazards and lack of green space. This study describes the distribution of PI residents, pollution sources, and green spaces in Los Angeles (LA) County. Methods: This study uses geographic information systems to determine the environmental risk of PIs in LA County. Data were taken from the US Census, EPA Superfund, and EPA Toxic Release Inventory. Census and health data were joined to maps of LA County. Locations of Superfund sites, high-emitting polluters, and major freeways were geocoded to maps. Buffers and hotspot analysis were used to demonstrate environmental risk. Results: The vast majority of PI communities are located near to toxic sites and high-emitting polluters. Census tracts with large PI populations also have fewer green spaces. PIs disproportionately reside in areas of high environmental risk. Discussion: PIs experience environmental injustice due to their disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards and lack of green spaces. Environmental policies should focus on reducing environmental risk and increasing health resources to PI communities to prevent disease and promote wellness. Some grassroots organizations in LA are currently taking action to address environmental justice for PIs.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three environmental hazards impacting Pacific Islander communities in Los Angeles County and how they affect health. 2. Explain the methods of using GIS to map out minority communitiesí environmental risk. 3. Formulate ways to use GIS mapping data to help move communities towards policy action steps that ultimately improve PI health outcomes. 4. Discuss how to involve Pacific Islanders in the environmental justice movement.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Asian and Pacific Islander

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a first-year doctoral student who is interested in issues of environmental justice for minority and low-income communities. My research interests include environmental racism, the built environment, and sociocultural determinants of health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.