Pollution and Penitentiaries: Examining Spatial Relationships Between Prisons, LULU Landscapes, and Airborne Toxins

Authors: Thomas Vogel*, East Carolina University
Topics: Hazards and Vulnerability, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Environment
Keywords: pollution plumes, GIS, prisons, LULUs
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Prison facilities and other locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) lead to a number of health, environmental, and socio-economic impacts on local communities. Prison facilities and other LULUs tend to be sited in locations where less wealth and social capital are available to contest them. This causes an increased burden on the local population. This study addresses the relationship between prisons, other LULUs, and local health impacts using interdisciplinary approaches including regression analysis, plume analysis, and GIS. The first stage of the project was a location analysis analyzing the relationship between socioeconomic indicators, respiratory health, and the LULU landscape in the case study states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas) collectively and individually and the probability of prison and LULU coexistence at the county level. The results indicated that the presence of prisons increases the probability of other LULUs being present and that prisons correlated positively with average income and respiratory health expenses. Next, a site selection (linear regression) model was performed to identify one prison and one non-prison study area in each of the states using socioeconomic and air quality indicators. This model showed a positive relationship between the presence of prisons and the influence on air quality, an approximation for risk of exposure. Plume analysis showed no increased exposure associated with prison facilities, however, the number of assumptions included in this model limit the results. Together these results suggest that the presence of a prisons correlates with both higher asthma expenses and decreased air quality despite the inconclusive plume analysis.

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