In collaboration with Front and Centered, Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, today we launched the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map.
The map is an interactive tool that utliizes up-to-date statewide environmental datasets and population measures in order to rank communities with respect to cumulative environmental risk. The map provides new insights into health inequities at the neighborhood level to help shape state priorities and funding decisions.
Data on multiple environmental indicators are combined in the online tool to show a cumulative score for each of the 1,458 US Census tracts in the state. The tool is hosted by the state Department of Health through its Washington Tracking Network, and is available at: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/wtn/WTNIBL/
Indicators were chosen based on input from community listening sessions that were held across the state. While data may not exist for all the indicators requested by attendees of the the listening sessions, the environmental health disparities map is meant to be dynamic, and evolve as new data become available.
The tool is meant to be solutions-oriented. Regardless of whether you’re a concerned resident, community leader and organizer, responsible government agency – having a better understanding of the environmental conditions in your community, and the people that are most affected by poor environmental quality – should lead to more informed priorities and focused strategies to improve environmental health.
While the map makes it easy for you to quickly compare the cumulative impact scores between different census tracts, I invite you to dig a bit deeper. Focus in on where you live, work, and play. Explore the various indicators that make up a score for your community. Examine how these indicators jive with what you know and your experience. And think about what needs to be done to be make environmental conditions better!
A report describing the methods and data used by the mapping tool can found here.
A policy brief for the tool can be found here.
Researchers at the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences are working with Washington Department of Health’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program, Front and Centered, and other organizations to create an environmental justice map for the state of Washington. The map aims to incorporate the best available statewide data on environmental pollution and population vulnerability at the community level. The work is informed by listening sessions held across te state aimed at understanding what pollution concerns exist for different communities, and how it affects the lives of those who live in these communities.
To learn more about the project visit the project website:
One of the main leads on the project, doctoral student, Esther Min is currently seeking input on the development of the first draft of this map.
As the project evolves, I’ll post additional articles documenting the challenges and opportunities we’ve faced in developing the EJ map.
In the Pacific Northwest, it’s easy to take environmental quality — our clean air, water, and soil — for granted. And with abundant natural and human resources, and a booming economy in Washington, doesn’t the future look bright?
But, let’s not forget that the science is clear: our climate is changing, and climate change threatens environmental quality and the health of people in Washington State. Climate change will affect some more than others. Race, income, language, location, and employment are some of the key factors that determine who are most vulnerable to the health effects of climate change.
With support from the Seattle Foundation, researchers at the University of Washington collaborated with Front and Centered to better identify the impacts of climate change on the health of communities of color. More than a literature review and data analysis, an effort was made to listen to communities across the state to understand and document their experiences and concerns about climate change and exposures to pollution that could result from a changing environment.
The result of this work is a new report: An Unfair Share. The report highlights the health risks faced by some of our most vulnerable workers, such as those employed in agriculture, construction, and fisheries. The report also hightlights how geography, and living in lowland areas, wildland/urban interfaces, or urban areas, each bears different risks with climate change.
The report identifies important knowledge gaps that can hopefully motivate new research that can lead to improved preparedness and resiliance in communities of color that are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Read the full report here: bit.ly/unfairsharereport
and let’s work for climate justice!