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Assessing perceptions of environmental risk and environmental justice and their impacts on neighborhood attachment in a predominately Hispanic community

By Russell Douglas Jones


This study examines and relates concepts from environmental risk perception and environmental justice and focuses on the perception of environmental problems, their consequent health risks and their impact on neighborhood attachment in a predominately Hispanic community along the U.S.-Mexico border. The findings indicate that the perception of environmental problems in the immediate area varies by problem and demographic subgroup. Ethnicity and income have the highest number of statistically significant associations across ten environmental problems. This result lies in the fact that Hispanics in El Paso County and those with low annual incomes live in neighborhoods that are faced with more severe environmental problems. Thus the findings lend support to the environmental justice claim that the poor and minorities bear the brunt of environmental degradation. The findings also provide evidence that public perception of health risks from an environmental problem is influenced by the perceived severity of an environmental problem in the immediate area. Those who believe the problem is serious on a local level are the ones who are most likely to believe that they could become ill or injured from that problem and that the illness/injury will be serious. The findings of this study also indicate that the young, Hispanics, those who perceive considerable environmental problems in their neighborhood, those who believe that their neighborhood has more environmental problems than others, and those who are angry about those problems are most likely to want to move from their neighborhood. Efforts need to be made to enact policies and programs designed to reduce the environmental hazards in disadvantaged Hispanic communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Future environmental education campaigns need to complement community-based projects with the media. Programs that involve and empower the community, particularly the youth, in improving the neighborhood could provide a sense of control and pride within their community in solving these problems. These neighborhood improvement efforts could also lead to the development and strengthening of social ties within the community, as well as enhanced community cohesiveness in tackling these problems

Topics: Public health|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Social psychology|Environmental science
Publisher: DigitalCommons@TMC
Year: 2001
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