My data analysis is centered upon a specific area that I am studying in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. It is an area that is right by the Raritan Bay and encapsulates a region that notably contained contaminated tap water. The data analysis of this area is beneficial to my research considering the fact that I am studying the water issues that Perth Amboy faces. This city is in a unique position as it experiences dirty water both in its surrounding bay/river as well as in the mainland tap water. Thus, I sought data that would describe really how contaminated these water systems are and how much of a detriment they could pose to Perth Amboy residents. Regarding the buffer I applied to my site, I did so by selecting multiple census blocks and made sure that I selected areas of Second Street (which confirmed the presence of tap water contaminants) as well as areas right by the Raritan Bay/River. For reference, I attached a screenshot below:
A question that I will seek to answer following this data analysis is, “Did this EPA’s map that reported the drastically high presence of contaminated wastewater propel government officials, local activists, or environmental conservation groups to demand more government action in protecting the Perth Amboy citizens?” I am not sure if this additional question is one that I want my research to also focus upon, but I am curious to learn whether these environmental problems with the water materialized following the advent of the Hispanic and Latino populations into Perth Amboy to work the industrial jobs.
Environmental Data Analysis
The most relevant environmental indicators to my research are the Wastewater Discharge and the Hazardous Waste Proximity. Another potentially relevant indicator is the Superfund Proximity. Since my research will focus upon the contaminated bay water and the contaminated tap water, it makes sense that the primary indicator will be the Wastewater Discharge. It is alarming to learn that my selected area ranks within the 94th percentile nationally, the 96th percentile for the EPA region, and the 95th percentile in the state. These high percentiles confirm Perth Amboy’s concerning proximity to wastewater and the detriment that proximity poses to the residents’ wellbeing. Considering that Perth Amboy’s industrial past sits in the backdrop of these current issues, it is worth studying the Hazardous Waste Proximity and the Superfund Proximity indicators as well. The proximity of superfunds (in which Perth Amboy is in the 77th national percentile) could also contribute to the undermining of Perth Amboy residents’ environmental health.
Demographic Data Analysis
Perth Amboy is generally known for its prominent Puerto Rican and Dominican populations. Thus, there is a potential association between the city’s environmental hazards and the existent minority populations. According to the Demographic indicators, the People of Color Population ranked in the 76th percentile nationally, the Low-Income Population ranked in the 19th percentile, and the Linguistically Isolated Population ranked in the 45th percentile. When I accessed the Census Data to harness more contextual information, the Census Data revealed that 78.0% of the total Perth Amboy population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race). The highest percentage of (Highest) Educational Attainment is 36.1% for High School Graduates (a stark contrast is those who hold a graduate degree, at 4.1%). In terms of Occupation, the highest percentage lied in Production and Transportation with a 34.4%. The Median Household Come is $52,563. Lastly, a drastic 71.3% of the population rent their homes.
Combining Demographic and Environmental Data/Conclusion
The provided data of the Perth Amboy population complements the data provided by the EPA map as they both play a role in contextualizing a town that continues to wrangle with the environmental results left by its industrial past. Often, environmental issues are experienced by vulnerable populations that can be defined by race, ethnicity, and/or economic status. This scenario continues to hold true in Perth Amboy as highlighted by the EPA data. Perth Amboy is a city that comprises of people who come from backgrounds of lower income, Hispanic and/or Latino, poorly educated, and blue-collar jobs. Arguably, minorities who do not possess economic nor political clout may not have the resources to successfully petition for better environmental conditions for their families and themselves to live in. In addition, prior to the publicized issue of contaminated tap water in 2019, I am not sure if the haphazard living environments were of common knowledge either. It is fundamental that my research explores the community response to both the contaminants of the Raritan Bay and the Perth Amboy tap water system with specific consideration to a community who may not have the proper resources or initial knowledge.
Although my research will not primarily focus upon Perth Amboy’s industrial pasts, the environmental exploitation of corporate interests, and the detrimental environmental impacts on the vulnerable populations left behind, this is a consistent theme that continuously sits in the backdrop of my research. These water issues have not materialized in the past decade—they are the product of corporate actions and interests of many past decades. Yet, Perth Amboy presently ranks in the 94th percentile in terms of the Wastewater Discharge environmental indicator. In the postwar United States, minorities are continuing to live in environmentally dangerous areas and may not have the means to advocate for governmental actions to support their welfare.
Keywords: Water, Perth Amboy