Date of Award

12-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Donald W. Hasting

Committee Members

Sherry Cable, Ron Foresta, Mary Sue Younger

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the complex relationship between race, pollution, and market forces using elementary school zones as community locus within California. This analysis examines the relationship between race and toxic facility sites using the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), census data, and California school data. This research improves on past research in several important ways. First, the community is defined by giving attention to literature on environmental grassroots movements and the formation of informal social networks using local elementary schools as an organizational locus. Second, the migration of Black, Hispanic, and White populations away from and towards toxic facility sites over a 20-year period is measured to help address the issue of market forces as a contributing factor in the disproportionate distribution of toxic facility sites in minority neighborhoods. Third, each toxic facility is measured on its potential harm to the community by assessing the relative toxicity of chemicals released into the local environment. Toxic Equivalency Potentials (TEP scores) provided by Scorecard are used to rate the relative toxicity of each facility.

Several conclusions can be drawn from this study. First, even after controlling for market forces, measuring the mobility of the White populations away from toxic facility sites, there remains strong evidence of environmental racism. Predominately Black and Hispanic communities are located almost 4 times closer to TRI facilities than are predominately White communities. Second, the evidence suggests that White populations are moving away from TRI facilities, whereas Hispanic populations are settling near TRI facilities. There is no evidence to suggest that Black populations are moving towards TRI facilities. Finally, TRI facilities located within 2-miles of predominately Black or Hispanic communities are no more toxic than TRI facilities located within 2-miles of predominately White communities.

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