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MiEJscreen: Environmental Justice Screening Tool (DRAFT)

Screenshot of the MiEJscreen tool showing census tracts in blue and red indicating overall EJ score
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

MiEJscreen: Environmental Justice Screening Tool (DRAFT)

MiEJscreen is an interactive mapping tool that identifies Michigan communities that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards. The map allows users to explore the environmental, health, and socioeconomic conditions within a specific community, region, or across the entire state.

These data sets can be viewed individually or combined into a final MiEJscreen score that allows users to understand how communities experience environmental justice impacts relative to others. These results are depicted in the form of maps so that different communities can be compared to one another.

A census tract with a high score is one that experiences higher pollution burden and vulnerability than census tracts with low scores. MiEJscreen ranks census tracts based on data that are available from state and federal government sources.

Contact

Katie Lambeth
517-249-0906
LambethK@Michigan.gov

Draft MiEJScreen application

The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, in cooperation with the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team Data and Research Workgroup, has developed MiEJScreen, an interactive mapping tool, in response to the dedicated advocacy of community members and the 2018 recommendations from the Michigan Environmental Justice Workgroup. Best practices of EJ screening tools around the nation were used to create this resource. 

If you have questions regarding the data or layers contact Katie Lambeth at 517-249-0906 or LambethK@Michigan.gov.

Open MiEJScreen 

Open Executive Summary MiEJScreen

Scoring matrix

See how the MiEJScreen score is calculated

Factsheet

Get the quick facts on the application

DRAFT Technical Report

Read the technical details on the creation of the app

User Guide

Learn what each button and widget in the app does

Provide Comments

Public comments on the tool are welcome in any of the following ways by May 16, 2022:

  • By email: EGLE-EnvironmentalJustice@Michigan.gov 
  • In writing to:
    EGLE Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate
    Constitution Hall
    P.O. Box 30473
    Lansing, MI 48909-7973 
  • By voicemail: 517-284-1400 
  • At the public comment opportunities on April 27, 2022.

If you have questions about the tool or how to provide comment, please contact the Office of Environmental Justice Public Advocate at EGLE-EnvironmentalJustice@Michigan.gov.

Where can I learn more?

In the next 60 days, EGLE will offer several opportunities to learn about how to use the tool during informational sessions, office hours, and an opportunity to provide official comments.  The first of these is a webinar focusing on how to navigate and use the tool.

Attend Office Hours to ask question on how to use the tool on May 2, 2022. No need to register just join at the links below. 

There were two MiEJScreen Informational Webinar and Screening Tool Demonstrations on March 29, 2022.

There were two MiEJScreen Informational Webinar and Public Comment Sessions on April 27, 2022.

About the Model

Michigan's environmental justice screening tool is based on California's CalEnviroScreen. CalEnviroScreen is a place-based model that provides information for the entire state on a geographic basis (census tract level). It includes multiple indicators as contributors to cumulative impacts representing environmental conditions and factors that affect people's vulnerability to environmental pollution.

The MIEJScreen overall score is made up of two sub scores (Environmental Conditions and Population Characteristics) which are further divided into four categories. There are two categories representing Environmental Conditions: Exposures and Environmental Effects, and two categories representing Population Characteristics: Sensitive Populations and Socioeconomic Factors. Each of the categories has a set of indicators that are scored for each census tract by its raw value, then assigned percentiles based on rank-order. Those percentile scores are averaged for each of the four categories (Exposures, Environmental Effects, Sensitive Populations, and Socioeconomic Factors). The formula below is used to combine the scores for each category to calculate the overall MiEJScreen Score: 

A diagram showing how  the MiEJScreen Score is calculated

About the Indicators

  • NATA air toxics cancer risk

    NATA Air Toxics Cancer Risk

    This indicator represents the lifetime cancer risk from inhalation of air toxics, as risk per lifetime per million people. Lifetime risks refer to the risk of developing cancer due to inhalation exposure to each air toxic compound over a normal lifetime of 70 years. Air toxics, often referred to as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), are pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive effects or birth defects, or adverse environmental effects. HAPs are emitted from a wide variety of sources including motor vehicles, industrial facilities, and power plants. In some cases, these substances react with other constituents in the atmosphere or break down into other chemicals. The National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) is EPA's ongoing review of outdoor air quality and the risks to human health that would result if air toxic emission levels remain unchanged.
    NATA respiratory hazard index

    NATA Respiratory Hazard Index

    The Air toxics respiratory hazard index indicator reflects the sum of hazard indices for those air toxics with reference concentrations based on respiratory endpoints, where each hazard index is the ratio of exposure concentration in the air to the health-based reference concentration set by EPA. The National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) is EPA's ongoing review of outdoor air quality and the risks to human health that would result if air toxic emission levels remain unchanged.

    NATA diesel particulate matter

    NATA Diesel Particulate Matter

    This indicator provides data on the diesel particulate matter level in air in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). Diesel particulate matter is mixture of particles that is part of diesel exhaust. EPA lists diesel exhaust as a mobile-source air toxic due to the cancer and noncancer health effects linked to exposure to whole diesel exhaust. Diesel PM has been used as a surrogate exposure measure for whole diesel exhaust. The National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) is EPA's ongoing review of outdoor air quality and the risks to human health that would result if air toxic emission levels remain unchanged.

    Particulate matter (PM2.5)

    Particulate Matter

    PM 2.5 are very small particulate matter in the air that are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, or about 30 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. These particulates are present as a mix of substances and may contain organic chemicals, dust, soot, metals, or other materials. There are many sources of PM 2.5 such as vehicles, construction sites, and power plants. The fine nature of these PM 2.5 makes the particles inhalable, which can cause and worsen serious health problems such as cardiovascular diseases. Local ecosystems are also impacted by PM 2.5 pollution. Particles can settle on land or water and cause harm to forests lands, acidify waterways, and deplete nutrients in the soil. PM 2.5 in the air is also known to form haze and reduce visibility.

    Ozone

    Ozone

    This indicator provides important data on the concentration of ozone in air in parts per billion. Ozone is often discussed with reference to the stratospheric ozone layer which protects the Earth from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. However, ground-level, or tropospheric ozone is a common harmful air pollutant and the main ingredient in smog. Ozone forms in the environment when pollutants emitted from cars, industrial plants, refineries, and other sources react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Thus, ozone is more readily produced and more likely to reach harmful levels on warm, sunny days without wind. High concentrations of ozone have been associated with a number of adverse health effects, specifically respiratory diseases such as asthma.  Sensitive populations to ozone include children, the elderly, Black people, people with asthma, and people who spend a significant amount of time outdoors. You can find more information and resources on ozone at EGLE's ozone webpage
    Traffic density

    Traffic Density

    This indicator represents traffic density as the count of vehicles per day on major roads in the area. Vehicles on Michigan's network of roads are a major source of air pollution. The exhaust fumes from cars and trucks contain noxious chemicals that are associated with some cancers, poor respiratory health, low birth weight, and other adverse health outcomes. Traffic density is also a quality-of-life issue as it generates a significant amount of noise pollution. Transportation planning in the last century that has given Michigan many of its major highways contributes to the environmental injustices playing out today. Low-income and communities of color often found themselves razed or bisected by road construction and eventually surrounded by busy roadways. Such sensitive populations, along with linguistically isolated populations, are more likely to live near areas of high traffic density today.

  • Proximity to cleanup sites

    Proximity to Clean Up Sites

    Land that has been environmentally degraded due to contamination by hazardous substances must undergo clean up efforts to be safe and usable. EGLE staff and property owners follow a process of investigating, remedial action, and monitoring to restore such sites. EGLE's remediation team maintain information about the state's clean-up efforts that can be found on their webpage. This indicator specifically uses proximity to Part 201 clean-up sites, Part 213 leaking underground storage tank sites, and Superfund sites. It can take years to fully clean up a site and during this time there are real concerns about the impact these sites have of human and environmental health. People living close to clean up sites are more likely to be exposed to the contamination of concern via air, water, or soil than those further away. These impacted communities have been shown in research disproportionately represent low-income people and people of color. Studies on the health of people living in proximity to Superfund sites suggest a range of associated negative health outcomes, including increased risk of cancer.

    Proximity to hazardous waste sites

    Proximity to Hazardous Waste Facilities

    Waste products are considered hazardous if it has or may have harmful effects on human health or the environment. Many discarded materials and by-products from industrial, mining, and agricultural operations or community activities are considered hazardous. The EPA and EGLE have requirements and maintain data regarding the generation, treatment, storage and disposal of this waste. Most hazardous waste products must be transported in accordance with regulations from the location it was generated to a permitted TSDF. This indicator reflects the proximity of communities to Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) and Large Quantity Generators (LQG). Due to the hazardous nature of these materials, there is widespread concern for the health of the people and environment surrounding such sites.
    Impaired water bodies

    Impaired Water Bodies

    Michigan's rivers, streams, wetlands, inland lakes, and Great Lakes are each important in many ways and support a diversity of uses.  Pollutants in Michigan surface waters can affect their ability to support various designated uses such as eating fish, providing safe drinking water, wading, swimming, fishing, and the protection of aquatic animals. This indicator takes into account the sum of all pollutants recorded in water bodies designated as impaired within the area. Because not all communities interact with, and rely on, waters in the same way, the number of identified pollutants impairing water quality may provide a helpful context in combination with other environmental effects indicators when exploring potential community-level impacts. For example, communities of color, low-income communities, and tribes generally depend on the fish, aquatic plants, and wildlife provided by nearby surface waters to a greater extent than the general population.
    Proximity to solid waste sites

    Proximity to Solid Waste Sites and Facilities

    Solid waste facilities are places where waste from homes, industry or other commercial sources are collected, processed, or stored. This indicator specifically represents the proximity of communities to licensed landfills, old dumpsites, and scrap tire sites. Solid waste sites and facilities sites have multiple impacts on the communities that house them. Older or abandoned facilities and sites out of compliance with EGLE regulations may have negative impacts on the surrounding environment, creating risk of exposure for those living nearby. These sites can also raise concerns of odors, vermin, and increased truck traffic and diesel pollution. Such concerns can affect quality of life and health of residents by negatively impacting the perceived desirability of the community which can have serious socioeconomic consequences.

    Lead paint

    Lead Paint Indicator

    This indicator reflects the percent of households in a census tract built before 1960, which have been found to be significantly more likely to contain lead-based paint than those built after 1960. Lead is a heavy metal and a neurotoxin that can accumulate in soft tissues and cause serious health complications. Lead has no known safe level of exposure for humans. While lead exposure can occur through interactions with contaminated air, water, dust, food, or consumer products, historically used lead paint is a main lead exposure pathway for many people living in the United States and the most significant pathway for children. Sensitive populations to this environmental effect have been demonstrated in research to be low-income people, children, BIPOC populations, and those with cardiovascular disease.

    Proximity to RMP sites

    Proximity to RMP Sites

    RMP sites refer to facilities that are required by federal legislation to file risk management plans. These regulations establish a List of Regulated Substances including 72 substances known to have high acute toxicity and 60 flammable or explosive substances as well as threshold quantities (TQ) for each. Accidental releases of these hazardous substances during production, use, or transportation have resulted in evacuations, injuries and even death. Facilities are obligated to file risk management plans with the EPA if it maintains a quantity of any of the listed regulated substances above the TQs. Such industrial facilities may have routine releases of residuals following pollution control measures to remove most of the waste stream into local air or water ways. People in surrounding areas can therefore be exposed indirectly or directly through ingestion or inhalation. However, the primary public health risks for RMP sites are accidental releases and fires or explosions. Local residents, workers, and emergency responders can suffer sever adverse health effects from these incidents.

    Wastewater discharge indicator

    Wastewater Discharge Indicator

    Water pollutants can have both adverse effects on public health and the environment. The severity of this impact depends on the concentration of pollutant in the water, the toxicity of the chemical in question, the exposure pathway, and other factors. Potential exposure pathways include swimming or other recreation in downstream waters and infiltration of drinking waters sources. The wastewater discharge indicator describes pollutant loadings from the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Loading Tool (which include NPDES DMR discharges and TRI releases) for toxic chemicals reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). This data was also treated by the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators model, which incorporates information from TRI on the amount of toxic chemicals released, factors such as the chemical's fate and transport through the environment, relative toxicity, and potential human exposure.

  • Asthma

    Asthma

    Asthma is a disease affecting the lung that can cause in shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and in 2020, 16% of Michigan adults were known to have the disease.  Although actions can be taken to reduce the severity of symptoms, including avoiding triggers, access to medicines and regular medical care, without proper care asthma can be a life-threatening condition. While the causes of asthma are unknown, known risk factors include a family history of asthma, exposure to environmental pollutants, and preexisting health conditions. Asthma is an important indicator of population sensitivity as the condition increases one's vulnerability to pollutants. Exposure to air pollution can cause asthma attacks or worsen the disease. Black people and low-income populations are significantly more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than any other group.

    Cardiovascular disease

    Cardiovascular Disease

    Cardiovascular or heart disease includes several health conditions related to blocked or narrowed blood vessels such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack. Other conditions such as arrhythmias, congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease, and more fall into this category as well. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly one in four deaths. Heart attacks are the most common cardiovascular event and although the survivorship of heart attacks has increased significantly in recent years, survivors can experience profound impacts on their quality of life and long-term survival. Survivors are highly vulnerable to future cardiovascular events. This risk increases when exposed to environmental stressors, particularly high concentrations of particulate matter air pollution which has been associated with reduced life expectancy for people with preexisting heart disease. Thus, measures of cardiovascular disease in Michigan's communities are an important indicator of populations sensitive to environmental degradation.

    Low birth weight infants

    Low Birth Weight Infants

    This indicator provides data on the percent of infants born at a low birth weight. Low birth weight (LBW) infants include those weighing less than five and a half pounds or 2500 grams at birth. These babies are often born premature, but full-term infants can also be LBW if growth is restricted during pregnancy. LBW is associated with many social and environmental risk factors, including low socioeconomic status, lack of prenatal care, exposure to toxic air pollution and lead. Several of the health conditions associated with LBW, such as asthma, can put children at increased risk when exposed to environmental stressors. Research has also provided evidence that LBW is more common among black women than Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women even when controlling for social risk factors.

    Blood lead level

    Blood Lead Level

    This indicator provides data on the percent of children under 6 that tested to have elevated blood lead levels (≥ 5 µg/dL). According to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, there is no safe level of lead in the blood (CDC, 2012). This indicator focuses on the lead exposure of children as they are at increased behavioral risk for encountering lead and increased biological risk for the negative heath affects associated with lead exposure.

    Life expectancy

    Life Expectancy

    Life expectancy refers to the average number of years a person can expect to live from birth if the mortality patterns that exist during the original estimate persist over their lifetime. Life expectancy serves as an indicator of overall public health as it speaks to the cumulative impact of socioeconomic and environmental factors, behavioral and genetic risk factors, and access and quality of health care. While the principles of environmental justice prescribe that everyone should be able to live a long and healthy life, many inequities in these factors create disparities in the longevity of community members. Research has suggested environmental quality is positively correlated with longevity; lack of access to safe drinking water, sufficient nutrition, and public health expenditures was linked with a shorter life expectancy at birth.

  • Low income population

    Low Income Population

    The US Census Bureau sets the Federal Poverty Level, a measure of income adjusted for the size of a household, annually. The low-income population indicator in MiEJScreen refers to the percent of the population living below double the federal poverty level.  Income is a social determinant of health as it can determine key risk factors such as housing status and location, educational attainment, access to health insurance, and mental health status. Low-income populations are more likely to live with pollution and suffer the negative health outcomes associated with such exposure than economically secure populations.

    Black, indigenous, people of color population

    Black, Indigenous, People of Color Population

    This indicator represents the number of people within a census tract that consider themselves Black, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian-Other Pacific Islander and two or more races. It is well understood through research that non-White racial and ethnic groups are disproportionately affected by environmental risk factors. Non-White populations are not only more likely to live near pollution, but also more likely to experience negative heath impacts associated with exposure. Outcomes such as heart disease, mortality, premature birth, low birth weight, and miscarriage mainly associated with air pollution are more prevalent in these populations, particularly black populations. Ultimately, the causes of racial and ethnic disparities in health status associated with environmental pollutants are still not completely understood and very complex. However, the experience of racism in the form of segregation and reduced access to healthcare, social goods and resources acts as a barrier to health and wellbeing (Pascoe and Smart Richman, 2009; Williams and Mohammed, 2009).

    Educational attainment

    Educational Attainment

    The MiEJScreen educational attainment indicator measures the percent of the population over age 25 with less than a high school education. Educational attainment is an important element of socioeconomic status and a social determinant of health. People with higher levels of educational attainment usually earn more, live longer, and are at a reduced risk for developing age-associated diseases. Contrastingly, adults with less education are more likely to develop pollution-related health problems and to die from the effects of air pollution.

    Linguistic isolation

    Linguistic Isolation

    The term linguistic isolation is used by the US Census Bureau to mean limited English-speaking households. The percent of these households in a population is represented in the MiEJScreen linguistic isolation indicator. Michigan is home to many people who speak languages other than English, mainly Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese. Yet, these people can encounter language barriers to vital resources such as access to healthcare and social services. Linguistic isolation may also affect a community's capacity for civic engagement affecting environmental policies, which can lead to environmental health disparities. 

    Population under 5 years old

    Population Under Age 5

    This indicator takes into account the percent of a census tract's population under the age of five years old. Children have an increased susceptibility to environmental stressors relative to adults; this is due to biological factors such as smaller airways, lower body weight, and higher metabolism. These can increase the risk that children develop asthma, experience poisoning, or other health complications when exposed to pollution. This increased susceptibility can also be a function of behavioral risks specific to childhood. Research has shown that children under two years old have the greatest exposure to lead in soils and household dust due to hand-to-mouth contact.

    Population over 64 years old

    Population Over Age 64

    This indicator takes into account the percent of a census tract's population over the age of sixty-four years old. Elderly populations have an increased sensitivity to exposure to environmental stressors compared to the general population. Biological processes such as metabolism, distribution, and excretion can lose efficiency with age. Other reductions in total body water, lean body mass, kidney function, and some blood proteins may also contribute to an increase susceptibility to pollutants. Age-associated diseases that are more prevalent in elderly populations also increase the risk of developing negative health outcomes from exposure to pollutants.

    Unemployment

    Unemployment

    Unemployment is considered to be the percent of the population over the age of 16 that is unemployed and eligible for the labor force. This does not include retirees, students, homemakers, or institutionalized persons. While unemployment is often used as a measure of health for the economy, it can also signal health outcomes for communities. Unemployment is representative of poor health and vulnerability to environmental burden as lack of employment and corresponding low income can act as risk factors within the population. Long term unemployment is also associated with increased stress and prevalence of age-related diseases.

    Housing burden

    Housing Burden

    Housing burdened populations are the percent of households paying more the 30% of their income on shelter costs. This level of housing unaffordability may lead to housing-induced poverty, and this population has been increasing in recent years. Having continued access to a stable housing situation is necessary to improve health, educational, and economic outcomes for households. High values of this indicator indicate areas where many resident households struggle to pay for their shelter.