Topic Areas:

Manuscript Keywords:

Superfund Site, Environmental Hazard, Environmental Justice

Community Keywords:

Why is this useful?

The issues of environmental equity have attracted increased public attention and action since the early1980s. Over the past 30 years, many studies have examined racial and socioeconomic inequality in relation to the spatial distribution of environmental hazards.


ngela R. Maranville, Tih-Fen Ting, and Yang Zhang.An Environmental Justice Analysis: Superfund Sites and Surrounding Communities in Illinois.Environmental Justice.Jun 2009.49-58.


Since the inception of the environmental justice movement in the late 1980s, studies have been conducted at national, regional, state, and local levels. However, environmental justice within the state of Illinois is largely unresearched. This article attempts to fill this gap by examining whether the presence of a Superfund site affects the surrounding communities in the state of Illinois with the intent to aid future siting decisions of hazardous sites and the amelioration of current sites. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was used to create buffer zones of one-, two-, and five-miles surrounding current Illinois Superfund sites. We then used these neighborhoods of the same size to analyze the current economic and racial demographics of Illinois communities that contain Superfund sites. Specifically, variables considered as indicators of environmental injustice were analyzed, including race, median household income, and homeownership. Our results support prior research that suggested race, rather than class, was the major indicator of environmental inequality. Additionally, as the distance from the Superfund site increases, the number of communities with socio-demographic disparities decreases. Our conclusions provide important theoretical implications for environmental justice research by distinguishing the racial factor from other socioeconomic factors (e.g., income and homeownership) and by identifying the socio-demographic characteristics associated with distance from a Superfund site.


Angela R. Maranville, Tih-Fen Ting, and Yang Zhang.

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