Environmental justice and the predictions of distance to accidental chemical releases in Hillsborough county, Florida

Paul Stretesky*, Michael J. Lynch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)



Much of the empirical work examining the issue of environmental justice centers on the unequal distribution of waste disposal facilities across diverse racial and ethnic subpopulations. Far less attention has been devoted to other types of environmental hazards. The purpose of this work is to extend the empirical examination of environmental justice into the area of accidental chemical releases (ACRs).


To accomplish the above-stated objective, we use 1990 census data to examine the relationship between the racial, ethnic, and economic demographic characteristics of census tracts (N = 164) and serious chemical accidents that occurred in Hillsborough County, Florida, between 1991 and 1994. The data used to map the location of these spills were obtained from the EPA's Accidental Reporting Information Program (ARIP).


Our bivariate analysis indicates that chemical accidents are, on average, more likely to occur near census tracts that are African American and low income than tracts that are white and more affluent. However, in multivariate analysis, race is not statistically significant when controlling for the effects of income.


These findings call attention to the problem of environmental injustice in the form of accidental chemical spills in Hillsborough County, Florida. We suggest that more attention be paid to this type of environmental hazard and recommend that additional research be conducted in other locations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)830-846
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


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