EPA's Environmental Justice Screening Tool: EJScreen 2.1
by Katelyn Hall, MPH, PhD and Tami McMullin, PhD
On October 11, 2022, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a second update to EJScreen (EJScreen 2.1), its publicly available environmental justice (EJ) mapping tool.
What is EJScreen?
EJScreen is EPA’s preliminary web-based screening tool to rapidly identify geographical areas with potential environmental justice concerns. Provides a cumulative measure for a community’s baseline vulnerability based on socioeconomic data and allows those to be examined alone or in combination with one environmental indicator. EJScreen equips EPA, state agencies, and the public with an easy-to-use tool to understand potential environmental justice concerns and ranks the user identified area compared to other areas across the US.
What is included in EJScreen?
EJScreen compiles the following seven socioeconomic indicators into indexes to describe baseline vulnerability of a community.
- People of color measured by the percent of individuals who list their racial status as a race other than white alone and/or list their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino
- Low-income measured by the percent of the population where the household income is less than or equal to twice the federal "poverty level"
- Unemployment rate
- Limited English speaking measured by the percent of the population living in households in which all members age 14 years and over speak a non-English language and also speak English less than "very well"
- Less than high school education
- Under age 5
- Over age 64
These socioeconomic indexes are combined with each single environmental indicator listed below to create 24 different Environmental Justice Indexes:
- Particulate matter 2.5
- Diesel particulate matter
- Air toxics cancer risk
- Air toxics respiratory hazard index
- Traffic proximity and volume
- Lead paint
- Superfund proximity
- Risk management plan (RMP) facility proximity
- Hazardous waste proximity
- Underground storage tanks (UST) and leaking UST (LUST)
- Wastewater discharge
How does EPA use the EJScreen results?
According to EPA, EJScreen is a preliminary step the agency uses for different decision-making purposes, such as permitting and compliance, enforcement, grant funding, and community outreach. For example, EPA’s 2022-2026 strategic plan includes a goal to address EJ concerns by conducting 55% of annual inspections at facilities that affect communities with potential EJ concerns. In 2022, EPA used EJScreen as one of their many tools to achieve this goal, with 56% of on-site inspections occurring at facilities located in communities with potential EJ concerns.
How Can CTEH Help?
CTEH has a team of experts in epidemiology, toxicology, public health, industrial hygiene, and dispersion modeling that can help clients in a wide variety of ways. We are experienced in the operation of EJScreen and understand the underlying data. Our understanding of the strengths and limitations of the tool allows us to help identify blind spots, strengths, and areas needing greater study. We are able to help accurately apply this tool to the correct situations and also utilize more accurate tools when needed to appropriately assess situations. We can also help you generate new data that would be more precise and accurate than the data used by EJScreen. Whether you are looking for an area to place a new facility, are working through a renewal of a permit of an existing facility, or just need help understanding another kind of EJ issue that may be affecting you or a client, we can help.