July 2003

Download this layer
.zip file containing:
 - statewide ESRI Shapefile (ej_poly.*)
 - summary .dbf tables (ej_poly_*.dbf)
 - ArcView 3x legend (.avl) and ArcGIS 8.3 layer file (.lyr)


Polygons in the Environmental Justice (EJ) Populations layer represent neighborhoods across the state with high minority, non-English speaking, low-income, and foreign-born populations. Data in this layer were derived from Summary File 3 at the blockgroup level (Summary Level 150) from 2000 U.S. Census data). Such areas are the focus of EOEA's EJ Policy, which was developed to use state resources to ensure that EJ populations receive a strong voice in environmental decision-making. For more information please visit EEA's Environmental Justice Web page, which includes a detailed fact sheet as well as text of the full policy.

The layer is named EJ_POLY_2000. (Note this layer was renamed from EJ_POLY when the EJ data from the 2010 Census was released by MassGIS in December 2012).

In 2007 MassGIS developed a series of Environmental Justice maps that display the EJ areas: Statewide pdf format of ej_statewide_11x8_july2007.pdf
(736 kB), Boston pdf format of ej_boston_11x8_july2007.pdf
(741 kB), (579 kB), Northeast pdf format of ej_northeast_11x8_july2007.pdf
(536 kB), Southeast pdf format of ej_southeast_11x8_july2007.pdf
(621 kB), Central pdf format of ej_central_11x8_july2007.pdf
(623 kB), West pdf format of ej_west_11x8_july2007.pdf
(kB). Also, view a list pdf format of ej_cities-towns.pdf
of communities meeting EJ criteria.


The layer was produced by identifying polygons from the Census 2000 Block Groups layer which met the following four criteria (items in parentheses beginning with "P00" are field names from the SF3 table):

1. % Minority

  • Non-minority = white alone, not Hispanic or latino (P007003)
  • Total population (P007001) (this is the sampled population headcounts, not actual)

% Minority = { [ (P007001 – P007003) / P007001 ] } * 100

Any blockgroup with a %Minority >= %25 was selected as an EJ population.

2. Income
  •  Statewide median household income in 2000 (Dept. of Economic Development):  $46,947
  •  65% of this value is $30,515. This is the number that was used for the criteria.
Any blockgroup that had a median household income in 1999 (P053001) less than this value was selected as an EJ population.
3.  English Proficiency
Linguistic isolation was used as the determining criteria here. It is defined in SF3 as follows:
Linguistic isolation. A household in which no person 14 years old and over speaks only English and no person 14 years old and over who speaks a language other than English speaks English ‘‘Very well’’ is classified as ‘‘linguistically isolated.’’ In other words, a household in which all members 14 years old and over speak a non-English language and also speak English less than ‘‘Very well’’ (have difficulty with English) is ‘‘linguistically isolated.’’ All the members of a linguistically isolated household are tabulated as linguistically isolated, including members under 14 years old who may speak only English.
Table P20 was used to establish this criteria.
  • Total number of households in a given blockgroup (P020001)
  • Linguistically Isolated Spanish speaking households (P020004)
  • Linguistically Isolated Indo-European speaking households (P020007)
  • Linguistically Isolated Asian and Pacific Island language speaking households (P020010)
  • Linguistically Isolated “Other language” speaking households (P020013)

Total # of linguistically isolated households = S [ (P020004) + (P020007) + (P020010) + (P020013) ]
% of English Proficient households =  [ (P020001 - # of linguistically isolated households) /  P020001] * 100

Any value less than or equal to 75% was selected as an EJ population.

4.  Foreign-Born
  • Total population (P007001)
  • Number of foreign-born members of population (P021013)

% of population that is foreign-born = { 1 - [ (P007001 – P021013) / P007001 ] }* 100

Any blockgroup with a value of 25% or more was selected as an EJ population.

The resulting set of blockgroups was narrowed down by refining the query to remove the following:
  • blockgroups with zero population.
  • blockgroups which might have been selected erroneously due to the presence of a higher education institution (college student populations)
  • blockgroups which might have been selected erroneously due to the presence of a correctional institution  (inmate populations)

Any time that one of the following schools or correctional facilities was found to be inside an EJ population polygon, the polygon was removed from the EJ selection.  (EXCEPTION:  polygons containing institutions located within Boston itself were not removed so as to not unfairly remove potential urban EJ populations)

These public educational institutions were geocoded and converted to point locations:

Berkshire Community College
Bridgewater State College
Bristol Community College
Bunker Hill Community College
Cape Cod Community College
Fitchburg State College
Framingham State College
Greenfield Community College
Holyoke Community College
Massachusetts Bay Community College
 Massachusetts College of Art
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Massasoit Community College
Middlesex Community College
Mt. Wachusett Community College
North Shore Community College
Northern Essex Community College
Quinsigamond Community College
Roxbury Community College
 Salem State College
Springfield Technical Community College
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Boston
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
University of Massachusetts Lowell
University of Massachusetts Medical Center
Westfield State College
Worcester State College
These private educational institutions were geocoded and converted to point locations:
American International College
Amherst College
Anna Maria College
The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University
Assumption College
Atlantic Union College
Babson College
Bay Path College
Becker College
Bentley College
Berklee College of Music
Boston College
Brandeis University
Clark University
College of Our Lady of the Elms
College of the Holy Cross
Curry College
Dean College
 Emerson College
Emmanuel College
Endicott College
Fisher College
Gordon College
Hampshire College
Harvard University
Hebrew College
Labouré College
Lasell College
Lesley University
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Merrimack College
Mount Holyoke College
Mount Ida College
New England College of Optometry
New England Conservatory of Music
 Newbury College
Nichols College
Northeastern University
Pine Manor College
Regis College
Simmons College
Smith College
Springfield College
Stonehill College
Suffolk University
Tufts University
Wellesley College
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Western New England College
Wheaton College
Wheelock College
Williams College
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
These correctional facilities were geocoded and converted to point locations:
Boston Pre-Release Center
Bridgewater State Hospital
Massachusetts Boot Camp
Massachusetts Treatment Center
Old Colony Correctional Center
Southeastern Correctional Center (closed 7/1/02)
MCI- Concord
 MCI- Framingham
MCI-Cedar Junction
MCI-Lancaster (closed 7/1/02)
Bay State Correctional Center
Pondville Correctional Center
 MCI-Shirley (Medium)
MCI-Shirley (Minimum) (closed 7/1/02)
Souza Baranowski Correctional Center
North Central Correctional Institution
Northeastern Correctional Center
Shattuck Hospital Correctional Unit
South Middlesex Correctional Center
Finally, a few other polygons were arbitrarily removed due to an understanding of the population characteristics in a given blockgroup not agreeing with the conceptual idea of an “EJ population”.


The polygon attributes (EJ_POLY.dbf) for the shapefile distributed by MassGIS contain the following items:
AREA F / 21 Area of polygon(s) in square meters
PERIMETER F / 21 Perimeter of polygon(s) in meters
ACRES F / 18 Area of polygon(s) in acres
BG_ID C / 20 Blockgroup ID number, composed of a concatenation of 3-digit county FIPS ID + census tract # + blockgroup #
LOGRECNO C / 8 Unique identifier of blockgroup within SF3. Can be linked to MassGIS Census 2000 Blockgroup index shapefile.
TOTAL_POP N / 6 Actual headcount population of blockgroup
SAMP_POP N / 6 Sampled headcount population of blockgroup. This value should be used because it is derived from SF3, where the rest of the demographic information was extracted from.
FOREIGN_BORN F / 7 Percentage of blockgroup population that is foreign born
INCOME N / 6 Median household income of the blockgroup in 1999 dollars
MINORITY F / 7 Percentage of blockgroup population composed of minorities
ENGLISH F / 7 Percentage of blockgroup population with English proficiency (all values of 75% or less meet EJ criteria)
FOR_FLAG C / 1 Receives a value of “F” if it meets the EJ criteria foreign-born percentage
INC_FLAG C / 1 Receives a value of “I” if it meets the EJ criteria for income
MIN_FLAG C / 1 Receives a value of “M” if it meets the EJ criteria for minority percentage
ENG_FLAG C / 1 Receives a value of “E” if it meets the EJ criteria for English proficiency percentage
EJ_SYM C / 4 Concatenation of flag codes to aid in mapping symbolization of all EJ criteria combinations
The Area, Perimeter, and Acres fields were calculated by XTools for ArcMap 8.1 Version 3.0. The Sq_Mi field was calculated by multiplying the Acres field by 0.0015625.

Summary Tables

MassGIS has prepared the following tables containing summary statistics:
  • EJ_POLY_STATECRITSUM.dbf - statewide summary of the number of block groups, EJ acres, and EJ population for each unique combination of EJ criteria (based on the EJ_SYM item from the layer's attribute table)
  • EJ_POLY_TOWNCRITSUM.dbf - for each town with EJ polygons, the unique combinations of EJ criteria (based on the EJ_SYM item from the layer's attribute table), the number of block groups, EJ acres, and EJ population
  • EJ_POLY_TOWNSUM.dbf - for each town with EJ polygons, the number of block groups, EJ acres, and EJ population


MassGIS maintains this layer. No updates are planned. Questions may be directed to Daniel Marrier at (617) 626-4537. For newer EJ data, please see the Environmental Justice 2010 Populations page.

Last Updated 12/11/2012