December 2012

Download this layer - .Zip file (1.7 MB) containing:
 - statewide Shapefile
 - summary statistics (PDF and Excel files)
 - ArcGIS 10.0 layer file (.lyr)


Environmental Justice neighborhoods are the focus of the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' (EEA) Environmental Justice (EJ) Policy, which establishes EJ as an integral consideration in all EEA programs, to the extent applicable and allowable by law. 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.

Polygons in the 2010 Environmental Justice (EJ) Populations layer represent areas across the state with high minority, non-English speaking, and/or low-income populations. Data in this layer were compiled for Census 2010 block groups from the 2010 census redistricting tables and from the American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2010 5 year estimates tables.

The 2010 EJ dataset should be used at the block group (BG) level to ensure that environmental planning and decision-making is done at the appropriate geographic scale. A fact sheet for 2010 EJ, EJ_2010_CommunitiesStatistics.pdf pdf format of EJ_2010_CommunityStatistics.pdf , lists municipalities with EJ BGs and statistics for each of these communities: the number of EJ BGs, the EJ criteria, the percentages of the BGs classified as EJ and the population living in these EJ BGs, and the mean EJ criteria count, which provides an indication of the diversity of the municipality’s EJ population and the intensity of EJ criteria found in the community.

Use the online Environmental Justice Viewer to see which Census 2010 block groups are classified as EJ areas.

The datalayer is named EJ_POLY. The 2000 version of the EJ data has been renamed to EJ_2000_POLY.

A series of regional maps displaying EJ Block Groups is available, and will provide an overview of the distribution of EJ communities in Massachusetts:

Statewide pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - State file size 2MB , Boston pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Boston (715 kB), Boston Metro pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Boston Metro (834 kB), Northeast pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Northeast (813 kB), Southeast pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Southeast (889 kB), Central pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Central (759 kB), West pdf format of EJ 2010 PDF Map - Western (615 kB).


The layer was produced by identifying polygons from the Census 2010 Block Groups layer. Block Group boundaries are based on population numbers rather than geographic size, and so Block Groups can vary greatly in size: from 3.5 acres in densely populated urban areas to nearly 19,000 acres in the western part of the state, with an average of 194 acres. Although the total population counts within Block Groups in the EJ dataset range from 82 to 4536, the population of 96% of block groups falls between 500 and 2500 people.

Block Groups were identified as EJ using the following three criteria:

1. Percent Minority Population

From the Census 2010 redistricting tables (PL-94-171) tables: Table P2: Hispanic or Latino, and not Hispanic or Latino by race

  • Non-minority = not Hispanic, white alone  (P002005) 
  • Total population (P002001)

% minority =  [ (P002001 – P002005) / P002001 ] } * 100

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

2. Income

From ACS 2006-2010 estimates tables: Table B19013 Median household income in the past 12 months (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars).

  • The 2010 Massachusetts state median income used is $62,133, released by the USDA Economic Research Service.
  •  65.49% of this value is $ 40,673.

==> Any Block Group with a median household income in 2010 (B19013) less than or equal to this value was selected as an EJ population.

3.  English Language Isolation

Linguistic isolation was used as an indicator of limited English language. 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.

From the ACS 2006-2010 estimates tables: Table 16002 Household language by linguistic isolation: Household language by households in which no one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks a language other than English at home and speaks English "very well"

These columns were used in this calculation (the columns in this ACS table do not have unique column IDs; column names in brackets are explanatory only):

  • Total [number of households]
  • Spanish: No one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks English "very well"   [column ‘a’]
  • Other Indo-European languages: No one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks English "very well"  [column ‘b’]
  • Asian and Pacific Island languages: No one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks English "very well"  [column ‘c’]
  • Other languages: No one 14 and over speaks English only or speaks English "very well"  [column ‘d’]

% of English Proficient households = columns a + b + c + d / total ] * 100

==> Any Block Group with 25% or more of all households identified as English-isolated was selected as an EJ population.

Additional data adjustments:

The resulting set of Block Groups was further evaluated to remove the following:

  • Block Groups which might have been selected erroneously due to the presence of a higher education institution (college student populations)
  • Block Groups which might have been selected erroneously due to the presence of a correctional institution  (inmate populations)

These Block Groups were identified with the 2010 group quarters totals in table P42, one of the Census 2010 redistricting (PL-94-171) files. Block Groups with 65% or more of their total population living in university housing and/or correctional facilities for adults were removed from EJ.  Additionally, blockgoups containing MCI-Concord and MCI-Framingham were eliminated.

Block Groups with a total population of zero were also removed.

Finally, approximately ten other polygons not agreeing with the conceptual idea of an “EJ population” were removed; these include Block Groups with very low populations (airports, industrial areas, parks) and Block Groups with no daytime population.


The polygon attribute table contains the following fields:
AREA_SQFT Area of Block Group in square feet
AREA_ACRES Area of Block Group in acres
POP100_RE Total population of Block Group (redistricting files)
HU100_RE Total number of households in Block Group (redistricting files)
PCTNOHHENG Percent of households with no persons over 14 speaking English only or “very well”.
PCT_LT_HS_ Percent of persons with less than a high school diploma (NOT an EJ criterion).
MED_HH_INC Median household income.
PCT_NO_ENG Percentage of Block Group population with limited English ability (NOT an EJ criterion).
LOGPL94171 Logical record number for PL (redistricting) tables.
LOGSF1 Logical record number for SF1 (Census 2010 Summary File) tables
LOGACS0610 Logical record number for ACS (American Community Survey) tables.
PCT_EJ_GQ Percent of persons living in university or correctional group quarters.
PCT_ALL_GQ Percent of persons living in all types of group quarters
PCT_MIN Percentage of Block Group population identified as minority (other than non-Hispanic white).
ENGLISH If coded "E" this Block Group meets the criterion of English Language Isolation
INCOME If coded "I" this Block Group meets the criterion of Low Income
MINORITY If coded "M" this Block Group meets the criterion of Percent Minority Population
EJ_CRITERIA The EJ criteria found in the Block Group: M = minority, I = income, E = English isolation. (Concatenation of the codes in the above three fields)
CRIT_CNT The number of EJ criteria found in the Block Group (1, 2 or 3).
TOWN_ID Municipality ID.
TOWN Municipality name (upper case).
TOWN2 Municipality name (mixed case).
TTL_POP_ACS Total population of Block Group (ACS 2006-2010 5 year estimates).
TTL_HH_ACS Total number of households (ACS 2006-2010 5 year estimates).
PCTMEDHHINC Percent of MA median household income.

Summary Table

The summary statistics shown in EJ_2010_CommunitiesStatistics.pdf pdf format of EJ_2010_CommunityStatistics.pdf are also available in an Excel Spreadsheet:

  • EJ_2010_municipal_stats.xls xls format of EJ_2010_municipal_stats.xls – includes statistics for each municipality containing EJ Block Groups: the number of EJ BGs, which EJ criteria are identified in these EJ BGs, the percentages of BGs classified as EJ, the number of people and percent of the population living in EJ BGs, and the mean EJ criteria count. This spreadsheet also has the acreage in each municipality covered by EJ Block Groups.


EEA GIS is maintaining this layer. Questions may be directed to Dominique Pahlavan at (617) 626-1184 or

Last Updated 12/11/2012