Is there environmental racism? The demographics of hazardous waste in Los Angeles County

Journal Article

Objective. The "environmental justice" movement has suggested that demographic inequities characterize the location of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs). While some researchers have found evidence that TSDFs are disproportionately located in minority areas, others attribute TSDF location to nonracial factors such as income and industrial employment. Methods. We used both univariate and multivariate techniques to analyze the location of TSDFs in Los Angeles County, California; the focus on one county allowed us to overcome the problem of "false" addresses for TSDF sites and to introduce specific land use/zoning variables that are not used in the other studies. Results. In our univariate results and the multivariate model, we find that (1) industrial land use and manufacturing employment do matter, as suggested by critics of environmental justice; (2) income has first a positive, then a negative effect on TSDF location, a pattern that likely reflects the fact that the poorest communities have little economic activity while wealthier communities have the economic and political power to resist negative environmental externalities; and (3) race and ethnicity are still significantly associated with TSDF location, even when percentage African American and percentage Latino are evaluated as separate groupings. Taken together, the results suggest that communities most affected by TSDFs in the Los Angeles area are working-class communities of color located near industrial areas.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Boer, JT; Jr, MP; Sadd, JL; Snyder, LD

Published Date

  • 1997

Published In

  • Social Science Quarterly

Volume / Issue

  • 78 / 4

Start / End Page

  • X - 810