DATA AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD LEVEL
Measurement of environmental burdens at the neighborhood level is relatively rare. Even rarer are measurements that are available in consistent form for every neighborhood in the U.S. (i.e., so that the same type of information can be found, for any neighborhood that a Scorecard user might choose).
One important exception is cancer risk from hazardous air pollutants in outdoor air. That information is available, nationwide, for locations as small as the individual census tract. There are approximately 60,000 census tracts in the U.S., and in cities a census tract can be as small as a few blocks or smaller (depending on population density). Another exception is the density of specific sources of environmental pollution, such as Superfund sites, and polluting facilities releasing toxic chemicals or criteria air pollutants. The number of these facilities per square mile can also be calculated at the census-tract level, for every census tract in the U.S.
These local measurements of environmental burden, along with information about the demographic makeup of each census tract, are what Scorecard puts together in order to provide an environmental justice analysis at the county level. The county level is as fine-grained as such an analysis can get, within the geographic limits of the existing data (and see other limits of the data).
Does that mean I'm just seeing county-wide averages? Some counties are very big, and a serious local inequality could get hidden if it's just being averaged in with the rest of the county.
No. The way Scorecard calculates, if a population group that's experiencing an unequal burden is concentrated in only a few census tracts, or even in only one, that inequality will stand out in the county-level analysis and will not be diluted by other census tracts in the county, no matter how many there are.
Can I pick my own group of census tracts to look at, instead of looking at a whole county?
Yes. Scorecard gives you raw data for each individual census tract and lets you locate each tract on a map. But comparative analyses are only provided for standard political units like counties or states.
HOW TO GET CENSUS-TRACT DATA
Use Scorecard's Find Your Community zipcode service to find any county's Environmental Justice Summary Report. Scorecard's Locator of Unequal Burdens also provides lists of counties with potential environmental justice issues.
Go to the "Environmental Justice Mapper" section of any report and click on the name of the county. A new window will open, and the mapper will allow you to zoom down in to individual census tracts on the map of the area you are interested in. The mapper will then guide you to a report on whichever census tract you select with your mouse.
NOTE: Reports on individual census tracts include only raw data, not comparisons like those provided at the county level. It is impossible to provide a comparative analysis of environmental burdens within a census tract, because data are only available for the tract as a whole.