Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Louisiana’s industrial corridor, the stretch of the lower Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, is one of the areas with the highest concentration of petrochemical facilities and chemical plants in the United States, as well as one of the most heavily polluted. In particular, the present study examined the associations of social vulnerability and potential exposure to environmental pollution in the upper section of the industrial corridor, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The study was based on the methodology developed by Cutter et al. (2003) to construct an empirically derived index to measure social vulnerability to environmental hazards. The data were collected at the zip code level for the year 2000. First, the underlying components of social vulnerability in the area were identified, that is, the socioeconomic factors that may result in unequal access to resources and that might affect the ability of communities to respond to hazard events. Poverty, urbanization, elderly, affluence, female and children, and race and ethnicity, were the six most relevant components in explaining the social vulnerability of the area at the zip code level. Second, the spatial distribution of social vulnerability was determined, with the most vulnerable zip codes clustered in the northwest portion of the region. Finally, the nature of the relationships between social vulnerability and environmental exposure risks was studied using Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data at the zip code level. Significant associations (á = 0.05) were found between environmental pollution and the urbanization and elderly components of social vulnerability. Furthermore, no significant correlation was found between toxic emissions and the overall social vulnerability index scores at the zip code level for the Baton Rouge MSA.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Reams, Margaret