Canadian Environmental Health Atlas

Understanding Our Environment is Key to Promoting Health and Preventing Disease

Search form

Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice

“Environmental justice” refers to the inequitable exposures to environmental hazards or how environmental hazards1 disproportionately affect humans of lower2 socioeconomic status (SES) (Figure 1). In the United States, the environmental justice movement grew because it was shown that industries that emitted environmental pollutants were more heavily concentrated in disadvantaged communities34. In Canada, environmental justice researchers are concerned that growth and progress commonly increase exposure to pollutants in disadvantaged communities while failing to bring the benefits of the higher standard of living and better quality of life that usually come with development. To protect vulnerable communities, researchers in Canada and elsewhere are exploring the role of socioeconomic disparities in exposure to environmental hazards.

  • 1. Eyles J. Environmental health research: setting an agenda by spinning our wheels or climbing the mountain? Health Place 1997;3:1-13.
  • 2. Evans GW, Kantrowitz E. Socioeconomic status and health: the potential role of environmental risk exposure. Annu Rev Public Health 2002;23:303-331.
  • 3. United Church of Christ (UCC). Toxic wastes and race in the United States. New York: Commission for Racial Justice, United Church of Christ; 1987.
  • 4. Bullard R. Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. San Francisco: Westview Press; 1990.