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MCAT Content / Spatial Inequality MCAT Wiki / Environmental Justice Location And Exposure To Health Risks

Environmental Justice (Location and Exposure to Health Risks)

Topic: Spatial Inequality Mcat Wiki

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Lack of environmental justice (the equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or other social groupings with regard to prevention and relief from environmental and health hazards) is another example of how spatial inequality acts as a system of geographical hierarchy. For example, most hazardous waste sites are located on property that was used as disposal sites long before modern facilities and disposal methods were available. Areas around such sites are typically depressed economically, often as a result of past disposal activities. Persons with low incomes are often constrained to live in such undesirable, but affordable, areas. Decisions in citing hazardous waste facilities are generally made on the basis of economics, geological suitability, and the political climate. The cost of land is also an important consideration.

Wealthier areas tend to enjoy environmental benefits like parks, bike paths, and other green spaces. Meanwhile, environmental burdens are more likely to be found in areas of higher poverty. These areas are more likely to be higher in racial and minority groups and experience higher levels of crime and poverty. Environmental burdens can present risks from pollutants and chemicals which, upon exposure, can lead to a negative impact on health. Areas with high environmental burden have been proven to have higher cases of obesity, asthma, and cancer rates.

Key Points 

• Environmental justice is the equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or other social groupings with regard to prevention and relief from environmental and health hazards.

• Environmental justice is another example of how spatial inequality acts as a system of geographical hierarchy.

• Wealthier areas tend to enjoy environmental benefits like parks, bike paths, and other green spaces.

• Environmental burdens are more likely to be found in areas of higher poverty. These areas are more likely to be higher in racial and minority groups and experience higher levels of crime and poverty. Areas with high environmental burden have been proven to have higher cases of obesity, asthma, and cancer rates.


Key Words

Environmental justice: The equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or other social groupings with regard to prevention and relief from environmental and health hazards.

Spatial inequality: The unequal amounts of qualities or resources and services depending on the area or location, such as medical or welfare.

Environmental burden: Environmental aspects that negatively impact the environment of a neighborhood and the health of its inhabitants.

Environmental benefit: Environmental aspects that have a positive effect on the environment (e.g. improved water quality and air quality, increases in biodiversity and habitat protection, and reductions in greenhouse gases).



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