A screen capture shows categories of the McKinley Park neighborhood’s industrial sites in a map from the University of Illinois – Chicago’s School of Public Health.

Environmental Justice Issues Inspire New Pollution Sites Map

Published January 25, 2022

The University of Illinois – Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health team studying environmental hazards and justice in Chicago has released its latest online map illustrating distances to Toxic-Release Inventory (TRI) sites, rail yards, brownfields and asphalt plants, as well as neighborhood public elementary schools.

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The map, available online at a University of Ilinois mapping web page, provides a number of new tools and information expanding on earlier groundwork measuring environmental justice issues, said Prof. Michael Cailas, who leads the team at UIC.

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“[The map is] for people to understand where they’re living,” Cailas said. “Instead of finding the nearest-to-you coffee shop, you can find what’s important for you and your kids.”

Clicking on any highlighted site in the map brings up detail on that location. Clicking elsewhere on the map opens up a proximity search tool for that location. The map is fully functional on mobile devices, Cailas said.

The new map from UIC's School of Public Health team offers tools for finding sources of emissions by location within Chicago. Click the "Explore" link in orange at the bottom of the graphic to open the map.If the map does not appear, please revisit here later, as map updates require it to be temporarily offline.

As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, the new hazard proximity map follows other environmental justice maps from the UIC team, including industry proximity to schools, nearby emissions sources and environmental justice impacts by community area.

The latest map shows these types of industrial infrastructure and businesses for the McKinley Park neighborhood, including in the McKinley Park Community Area and the Central Manufacturing District that lines West Pershing Road.

McKinley Park's Sites

In McKinley Park, the map identifies one TRI site — R&B Powder Coating at 4000 S. Bell Ave., Chicago — as well as shows other TRI sites nearby in adjacent community areas.

The map shows three asphalt facilities in Chicago's McKinley Park neighborhood: MAT Asphalt at 2033 W. Pershing Road, Beverly Asphalt Paving Co. at 1514 W. Pershing Road and Chicago Ace Paving at 3680 S. Archer Ave.

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The map also highlights the large rail yard from Northfolk Southern Railway at the south edge of the Central Manufacturing District and the brownfield comprising the dilapidated city-owned Central Manufacturing District warehouses at 1819 W. Pershing Road.

Not Included In Map

Cailas noted that the map does not include sites for other types of industry, such as shipping warehouses, manufacturers, truck yards and other businesses common in McKinley Park's many acres of Planned Manufacturing Districts: areas the City of Chicago has zoned for heavy industry.

"If you overload the map, it stops being functional," Cailas said. "In the next version it, we'll even have to change the software in order to accommodate more information."

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"Right now, we're working on creating our own software," he said.

Southwest Side Asphalt Only

Cailas said that the asphalt facilities depicted in the map are currently only those within the area identified in the 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between UIC and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). As previously reported here in the McKinley Park News, this memorandum has formed the basis for emissions testing of asphalt plants on Chicago's Southwest Side.

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As detailed in its project description, considerations for what to include in the new map came from community-based participation, including feedback from stakeholders like the Southwest Environmental Alliance, the Chicago City Council’s Latino Caucus and Chicago’s Committee on Environmental Protection & Energy.

Ed. Note: MAT Asphalt is a Sponsor of the McKinley Park News. For information about our operations and policies, see our About Us page and the Letter from the Editor "Building a Trustworthy News Business."

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