It's Earth Day: How vulnerable is your community to pollution?

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28850 full

Los Angeles communities like Cudahy, Boyle Heights and El Monte are among the top five percent most environmentally burdened in the state, and residents there are among the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of pollution, according to new data from state environmental agencies. 

The information is in an interactive map called CalEnviroScreen, a tool that evaluates multiple pollution sources and other stressors in communities. It assigns each census tract a score, based on its exposure to pollution and various demographic and public health measurements. 

The tool, which was released Monday and is still in draft mode, was developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

It’s designed to identify disadvantaged communities in need of "environmental justice" grants and other investment opportunities, said Sam Delson, spokesman for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. It's also intended to guide state agencies’ planning and decision-making regarding environmental laws and site cleanup activities, he said.

How does your community fare?

CalEnviroScreen shows many census tracts in east L.A. shaded in red and orange, indicating they are some of the most pollution-burdened and vulnerable in the state. 

To measure an area's pollution burden, the tool considers 12 factors, including:

  • air quality indicators, like ozone and PM2.5 ("fine" particulate matter) concentrations, and diesel PM (particulate matter) emissions
  • drinking water quality and groundwater threats
  • exposure to hazardous waste, cleanup sites and toxic releases from facilities

The tool also measures seven population and public health categories, including:

  • poverty and unemployment
  • linguistic isolation and educational attainment
  • low birth-weight babies and asthma-related emergency department visits

These socioeconomic characteristics are factored into the score because research shows that pollution "can have a stronger effect on areas that have higher rates of these population burdens," Delson said. 

The public can provide feedback on this draft version during a workshop on May 7, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Junipero Serra Building, 320 W. Fourth St., Los Angeles.

The 20 census tracts most vulnerable to pollution:

Rank Tract Neighborhood City
1 6019001100 Edison Fresno
2 6019000300 Edison/Central Fresno Fresno
3 6019000200 Edison/Central Fresno Fresno
4 6019000600 Edison/Central Fresno Fresno
5 6019001500 Roosevelt/South Fresno Fresno
6 6019000902 Edison Fresno
7 6029002500 Casa Loma Bakersfield
8 6019000502 Central Fresno Fresno
9 6037206050 Central City East Los Angeles
10 6019000901 Edison Fresno
11 6019007100 West Selma HWY 99 South of Fresno
12 6019001000 Edison Fresno
13 6071001600 Ontario airport and neighborhood west Ontario
14 6019000501 Roosevelt Fresno
15 6071005701 Stadium West/Carousel San Bernardino
16 6037203100 El Sereno Los Angeles
17 6019002400 Fresno-High Fresno
18 6019000400 Roosevelt Fresno
19 6019001201 Roosevelt Fresno
20 6019000800 Edison Fresno
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