2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)

Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


STEWART, Meg E., SCHNEIDERMAN, Jill S., ARCHER, Marnie, HARRIS, Emily M., LEE, George R. and ZHOU, Yu, Geology and Geography, Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Box 735, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0735, mestewart@vassar.edu

We have compiled a comprehensive environmental inventory for the mid-Hudson valley, (Greene, Columbia, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, and Putnam counties) New York. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) we have identified potentially hazardous facilities as well as past and present land uses; described the character of the communities in which they occur using variables such as race, linguistic isolation, and economic class; and examined correlations to assess equitability of the distribution of environmental risk. Our inventory includes but is not limited to the 2000 U.S. census demographic data at the block group level, Toxic Release Inventory and Superfund sites from the EPA, digital orthophotos, FEMA 100-year flood lines, day care centers, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, landfills, incinerators, and drinking water wells.

Hazardous facilities were field checked for accuracy and discrepancies in the locations of the data points were corrected. Then, spatial coincidence mapping was performed using GIS; sites and facilities (e.g. TRI sites or incinerators) were selected and demographics were calculated by block group for those locations. For each site we executed a buffer analysis in GIS by placing a predefined distance (one hundred yards to one mile) around the selected site and calculated the proximate populations. Demographic variables such as race, income, poverty level, age, sex, home ownership, education level, immigrant status, and language spoken in the home were evaluated in the study.

We anticipate that this interdisciplinary project involving geologists and geographers will serve as a model for other regions wishing to examine systematically correlations between environmentally undesirable land uses and community demographics. We also expect that the project will demonstrate the utility of such interdisciplinary work in land use policy decision-making.