The Environmental Protection Agency has released a new mapping application that allows users to investigate environmental and demographic information about the places they live, work and play. The app, called EJSCREEN, intersects data sets from recent censuses and environmental maps to help users understand the relationship between the environment and demographics.
EJSCREEN utilizes 12 different environmental indicators, six demographic indicators, and 12 environmental justice (EJ) indexes which pair an environmental indicator with a demographic indicator. This allows users to obtain color coded mapping and reports for the specific locations they have selected to look at using the app. The app can then compare these specific reports to state data, regional data and national averages.
The app’s environmental indicators include areas of water pollution, air particulates, and can combine this data with the physical features of a city like factories that may be contributing to particular environmental problems. Demographic information using census data can indicate various economic, social, and ethnic divides in a city and pair them with environmental factors.
The motivation behind the creation of the app is environmental justice; the idea that everyone has the right to live in healthy and happy environments. Unfortunately, factors like income and socioeconomic status can expose people to higher levels of pollutants than those who live in wealthier areas of a city or state. The idea of environmental discrimination can now begin to be quantified after years of scientific speculation.
The app is used by scientists and policy makers as well as community members looking to improve the environmental quality of their communities. The app is the first consistent environmental tool for the Environmental Protection Agency to use that smaller environmental agencies can also utilize in their own conservation efforts. While far from perfect, the app is an important step in developing a greater understanding of the intersection between demographics and the environment in the United States.
EJSCREEN – Environmental Protection Agency