Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Jan 24. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.2c04302. Online ahead of print.
Although quantitative environmental (in)justice research demonstrates a disproportionate burden of toxic chemical hazard risks among racial/ethnic minorities and people in low socioeconomic positions, limited knowledge exists on how racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups across geographic spaces experience toxic chemical hazards. This study analyzed the spatial non-stationarity in the associations between toxic chemical hazard risk and community characteristics of census block groups in Texas, USA, for 2017 using a multiscale geographically weighted regression. The results showed that the percentage of Black or Asian population has significant positive associations with toxic risk across block groups in Texas, meaning that racial minorities suffered more from toxic risk wherever they are located in the state. By contrast, the percentage of Hispanic or Latino has a positive relationship with toxic risk, and the relationship varies locally and is only significant in eastern areas of Texas. Statistical associations between toxic risk and socioeconomic variables are not stationary across the state, showing sub-state patterns of spatial variation in terms of the sign, significant level, and magnitude of the coefficient. Income has a significant negative association with toxic risk around the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area. Proportions of people without high school diploma and the unemployment rate both have positive relationships with toxic risk in the eastern area of Texas. Our findings highlight the importance of identifying the spatial patterns of the association between toxic chemical hazard risks and community characteristics at the census block group level for addressing environmental inequality.