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Mapping environmental health hazards and vulnerable communities

June 13th, 2013 | by Ian James | Comments

A new report documents some of the concerns that have long been raised by advocates focused on environmental health in the Coachella Valley: poorer communities in the eastern portion of the valley face significant air and water pollution problems, and are especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons. Reporter Victoria Pelham provides a thorough look at the report in this news article.

The report, which is available online, was prepared by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. It includes a detailed explanation of how researchers developed a “cumulative environmental vulnerability assessment” taking into account indicators including the use of pesticides, waste sites, socio-economic data and emergency treatment for asthma, among other factors.

A census tract map showing the results (on page 7 of the report) lays out clearly where the most severe problems lie: a burgundy and orange swath stretching from Coachella to the Salton Sea, including Thermal, Mecca and surrounding areas.

The online report also includes a technical appendix in which the authors explain why factors such as water quality are important, how hazards were assessed and what limitations they faced using the available data.

The report provides a clearer picture of pollution hazards in the Coachella Valley and can be used by political leaders, government officials and others to help direct resources to communities with some of the most severe environmental health problems.

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