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MassGIS Data: 2020 Environmental Justice Populations

June 2021

Environmental Justice Population Data, based upon three demographic criteria developed by the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).

Table of Contents


Zip file (2.4 MB) containing:
 - statewide Shapefile
 - summary statistics (PDF and Excel files)
 - ArcGIS 10.0 layer file (.lyr)


Environmental Justice populations 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.

** Please note: adjustments to this datalayer may be made after the final 2020 census data are released.

Polygons in the 2020 Environmental Justice (EJ) Populations layer are 2019 Census block groups across the state that meet any of the criteria listed below. Data in this layer were compiled from the American Community Survey (ACS) 2015-2019 5-year-estimates tables.

The 2020 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 2020 EJ, MA EJ 2020 Municipal Statistics.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.

This online Environmental Justice Viewer shows which Census 2020 block groups are classified as EJ populations.

The datalayer is named EJ_POLY. The 2010 version of the EJ data has been renamed to EJ_POLY_2010.

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


The polygon attribute table contains the following fields:

Field Name Description
COUNTY Three-digit county code
TRACT Census tract number
BLOCKGROUP Block group number
NAMELSAD Block group name
GEONAME Name of block group, Census tract, county, and state
GEO_ID Census block group ID
GEOID10 Geo_ID truncated
SPLIT_FOR_MUNI A flag (yes) denoting if the block group has been divided at a town boundary
TOWN_ID Municipality ID
MUNICIPALITY Municipality name (upper case)
MUNI2 Municipality name (proper case)
EJ_2010_CRITERIA EJ criteria (I, E, M) designated for the block group from 2010
TOTAL_POP Total population of Block Group (ACS 20015-2019 5 year estimates)
WHITEALONENH Total population of persons identifying as white alone and non-Hispanic/Latino
PCT_MINORITY Percentage of Block Group population identified as minority (persons other than non-Hispanic white)
TOTAL_HH Total number of households (ACS 20015-2019 5 year estimates)
PCT_LIMENGHH Percent of limited English-speaking household s (ACS 20015-2019 5 year estimates)
BG_MHHI2019 Median 2019 household income
BG_PCTMAHHI Block group 2019 MHHI as percent of MA 2019 MHHI
MUNI_MHHI2019 Municipal 2019 MHHI
MUNIMHHI_PCTMAHHI Municipal 2019 MHHI as percent of MA. 2019 MHHI
MEDIANHHI Flag (I) for the income EJ criterion
LIMITEDENGLISH Flag (E) for the limited English household EJ criterion
MINORITY_POPULATION Flag (M) for the minority population EJ criterion
EJ Flag (Yes) for designation as an EJ block group
EJ_CRITERIA EJ criteria (I, E, M) designated for the block group
EJ_CRITERIA_CNT Number of EJ criteria designated for the block group (1-3)
EJ_CRIT_DESC EJ criteria description


The Environmental Justice layer was produced by designating Census 2019 block groups as an Environmental Justice population using three criteria: Minority population, median household income, and household English language isolation. Block groups are statistical divisions of census tract and their boundaries are based on population numbers rather than geographic size, generally between 600 and 3,000 people. Therefore, block groups can vary greatly in size. Where block groups cover more than one town, most often in the western part of the state, the block group has been split along the town boundary and the attributes, with the exception of TOWN_ID, Municipality and MUNI2, have been duplicated in each part of the block group.

Environmental Justice neighborhood, i.e., block groups are defined in Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021:

"Environmental justice population", a neighborhood that meets 1 or more of the following criteria: (i) the annual median household income is not more than 65 per cent of the statewide annual median household income; (ii) minorities comprise 40 per cent or more of the population; (iii) 25 per cent or more of households lack English language proficiency; or (iv) minorities comprise 25 per cent or more of the population and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 per cent of the statewide annual median household income.

These criteria were evaluated with three American Community Survey 2015-2019 5-year-estimate tables:

1. Percent block group Median Household Income as percent of MA Median Household Income

Table B19013

(B19013_001E / 85843) * 100

MA median HHI 2019: $85,843

Table: DP03 (5-yr estimate)

==> Any Block Group with a median HHI as percent of the MA median HHI in 2019 (B19013) less than or equal to 65.49 [56,220] was designated an EJ population.

2. English Language Isolation

Table C16002

(C16002_004E: Estimate!!Total:!!Spanish:!!Limited English speaking household +
C16002_007E: Estimate!!Total:!!Other Indo-European languages:!!Limited English speaking household +
C16002_010E: Estimate!!Total:!!Asian and Pacific Island languages:!!Limited English speaking household +
C16002_013E: Estimate!!Total:!!Other languages:!!Limited English speaking household) /
C16002_001E: Estimate!!Total: *100

==> Any Block Group with 24.5% or more Limited English-speaking households was designated an EJ population.

3. Percent Minority Population:

Table B03002

((B03002_001E:Estimate!!Total: -  B03002_003E:Estimate!!Total:!!Not Hispanic or Latino:!!White alone) / B03002_001E:Estimate!!Total:) * 100

==> All block groups with 39.5% or more minority population were designated an EJ population.
==> All block groups with a minority population between 24.5% and 39.5% AND with a MHHI  less than 150.5% of the state MHHI were designated an EJ population. 


Additional data adjustments:

Block Groups with a total population of less than 25 were removed.

Summary Tables

The summary statistics shown in EJ_2020_CommunitiesStatistics.pdf are also available in an Excel Spreadsheet:

  • EJ_2020_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

Date published: June 23, 2021
Last updated: June 23, 2021