Table of Contents
Geography Journal
Volume 2015, Article ID 324683, 8 pages
Research Article

Ground-Truthing Validation to Assess the Effect of Facility Locational Error on Cumulative Impacts Screening Tools

1Geology Department, Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles, CA 90041, USA
2US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, 109 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711-0001, USA
3Program for Regional and Environmental Equity, University of Southern California, 950 W. Jefferson Boulevard, JEF 102, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1291, USA
4Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management & School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, 130 Mulford Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, USA
5US Environmental Protection Agency Region 9, 75 Hawthorne Street (ENF-4-1), San Francisco, CA 94105, USA

Received 3 June 2015; Accepted 6 August 2015

Academic Editor: Lijun Hou

Copyright © 2015 J. L. Sadd et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Researchers and government regulators have developed numerous tools to screen areas and populations for cumulative impacts and vulnerability to environmental hazards and risk. These tools all rely on secondary data maintained by government agencies as part of the regulatory and permitting process. Stakeholders interested in cumulative impacts screening results have consistently questioned the accuracy and completeness of some of these datasets. In this study, three cumulative impacts screening tools used in California were compared, and ground-truth validation was used to determine the effect database inaccuracy. Ground-truthing showed substantial locational inaccuracy and error in hazardous facility databases and statewide air toxics emission inventories of up to 10 kilometers. These errors resulted in significant differences in cumulative impact screening scores generated by one screening tool, the Environmental Justice Screening Method.