Environmental Racism in a Growing City: Investigating Demographic Shifts in Salt Lake City's Polluted Neighborhoods
Date of Award
Studies investigating the spatial distribution of environmental hazards have repeatedly demonstrated the existence of environmental racism -- the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on communities of color. We aim to contribute to research on environmental racism by asking how relationships between race and hazard exposure change over time. Our study area, Salt Lake City (SLC), UT, USA is one of the largest cities in the intermountain west and is expected to see continued population growth. SLC was 99% white from 1860-1950. 2019 census estimates indicate that SLC is becoming more racially diverse with 35.6% of the population identifying as racial categories other than “white alone.” Latinx people represent the largest proportion of SLC’s growing racial diversity (21.2%). We analyze American Community Survey (ACS) demographic data comparing 2 years spanning a ~10 year period (2010 and 2019) to determine whether census tracts with high densities of environmental hazard sites have a growing, shrinking, or unchanging proportion of Latinx residents. We connect this analysis to mortgage redlining practices that promoted urban segregation along race and class lines and ask whether these practices and the resulting geographies of housing inequality have created conditions restricting the growth of communities of color to polluted areas. We argue that racist planning practices effectively weave environmental racism into the fabric of cities and that cities with growing communities of color must consider how existing spatial patterns of segregation may perpetuate exposure to environmental harms.
Jones, Emma Nathel, "Environmental Racism in a Growing City: Investigating Demographic Shifts in Salt Lake City's Polluted Neighborhoods" (2021). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 699.
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Departmental Honors Advisor
Capstone Committee Member
Poster presentation: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/honors_projects/4