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The Environmental Burden Index: Estimating Environmental Quality by Peer Group

Authors: Barry Flanagan*, CDC/ATSDR
Topics: Environment, Hazards and Vulnerability
Keywords: Environmental Burden Index, Environmental Justice, Vulnerability, Environmental Peer Groups
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The environment is an essential component of human health, but environmental data can be difficult to access and use. Studies using environmental data are often unable to account for multiple factors within the environment and thus may be limited to one attribute such as air pollution or access to greenspace. To help systematize environmental data while accounting for multiple factors, GRASP accessed data sources across various fields and disciplines with the goal of constructing an index. The Environmental Burden Index (EBI) aggregates multiple datasets, using data from 2011-2015, to estimate environmental quality at census tract level across the contiguous United States. Included in the EBI are measures of: proximity to industrial sites, transportation infrastructure (major high-density roadways & railroads), air quality (particulate matter, ozone) and parks/greenspace. A percentile ranking for each of these six environmental factors is calculated and summarized into an overall burden percentile ranking for each U.S. census tract, as well as a stratified burden percentile ranking based on environmental peer groups (distinguished by land cover type). The ten potential peer environmental groups include: Urban: 1. Developed –High Intensity 2. Developed – Medium Intensity 3. Developed – Low Intensity 4. Developed – Open Space Rural: 5. Forest 6. Planted/Cultivated 7. Herbaceous 8. Shrubland 9. Wetlands 10. Water/Barren. Final rankings included in the EBI dataset include the overall environmental burden ranking (no peer groups) and ranking by environmental peer group (census tracts with similar land cover types), as both versions of the EBI may be valuable in different con

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