Proximity of Concrete Batch Plants to Marginalized Communities in Chicago, Illinois
Although many scholars have observed frequent environmental and societal injustices within American society, there is still a general lack of academic research on the proximity of concrete batch plants to underrepresented populations in most major US cities. This thesis explores whether environmental injustice issues within Chicago include the placement of concrete batch plants. This issue was investigated by quantifying the relationships between PM 2.5 emissions, concrete batch plant proximity, and the socioeconomic status or race/ethnicity of nearby communities. Whether neighborhoods were suffering from a disproportionate number of health issues as a result of residing near batch plants was also examined by exploring spatial patterns of asthma and COVID-19 cases. The study relied primarily upon utilizing regression modeling and statistical tests conducted within R and GIS software. The findings suggested that the relationships between concrete batch plant proximity and socio-economic characteristics were more intricate than previous literature has suggested due to the complex nature of where concrete batch plants must be constructed to adequately meet the needs of the construction industry. This thesis leaves room for future exploratory research to determine what other relationships may exist with unique environmental hazards and how environmental justice issues sometimes conflict with complex economic interests.