CalEnviroScreen FAQs

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What is CalEnviroScreen?

CalEnviroScreen is a screening tool that evaluates the burden of pollution from multiple sources in communities while accounting for potential vulnerability to the adverse effects of pollution. CalEnviroScreen ranks census tracts in California based on potential exposures to pollutants, adverse environmental conditions, socioeconomic factors and prevalence of certain health conditions. Data used in the CalEnviroScreen model come from national and state sources.

Why was CalEnviroScreen developed?

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) developed CalEnviroScreen as part of CalEPA’s environmental justice program. CalEnviroScreen is being used to identify communities that face multiple burdens of pollution and socioeconomic disadvantage.  This information helps CalEPA to prioritize its work in the state’s most burdened communities.

How is CalEnviroScreen being used?

CalEnviroScreen is used by CalEPA and its boards and departments to aid in administering environmental justice grants, promote compliance with environmental laws, prioritize site-cleanup activities and identify opportunities for sustainable economic development. It is also being used to identify disadvantaged communities in California pursuant to Health and Safety Code Section 39711[R W1]  (SB 535 of 2012), the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Investment Plan and Communities Revitalization Act. Other organizations, including community groups, regional environmental agencies and local governments, may identify additional uses for the tool. More information on uses can be found here.

Who can use CalEnviroScreen?

The online tool can be used by anyone with internet access. The data underlying CalEnviroScreen scores are available for download from the CalEnviroScreen website. Interactive maps are posted  online.

How are CalEnviroScreen scores calculated?

CalEnviroScreen 2.0 uses a suite of 19 indicators to characterize pollution burden (12 indicators) and population characteristics (7 indicators). Each indicator is assigned a score for each census tract in the state based on the most up-to-date suitable data. Scores are weighted and added together within the two groups to derive a pollution burden score and a population characteristics score. Those scores are multiplied to give the final CalEnviroScreen score.

Why are both Pollution Burden and Population Characteristics indicators necessary? Some other schemes for identifying disadvantaged communities look only at socioeconomic factors.

SB 535 states that disadvantaged communities “shall be identified based on geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental hazard criteria.“ The indicators comprising the CalEnviroScreen model include some of each type of criterion.

How were the indicators chosen?

We selected indicators based on public input, expert recommendations and the availability of statewide data that could be incorporated into a screening tool at the appropriate geographic scale. The CalEnviroScreen model is made up of four components that exemplify geographic, socioeconomic, public health, and environmental hazard criteria, and the indicators we selected encompass all of these components. For more information, see the CalEnviroScreen report and Indicator pages.

How can members of the public be involved in CalEnviroScreen?

Workshops concerning CalEnviroScreen are open to the public and are announced on the CES website. Interested parties can join the CalEnviroScreen listserv, and we respond to email at As new versions of CalEnviroScreen are developed, public comments are accepted, and all interested people and organizations are invited to submit written comments to OEHHA. Occasions for public participation, including public meetings and workshops, and public comment periods, will be announced on OEHHA’s website.

Does CalEnviroScreen take into account the effects on communities that are located near hazardous waste sites or polluting factories?

Several indicators, including hazardous and solid waste sites, toxic releases, and impaired water bodies indicators, base their scoring methodology partly on proximity to these environmental hazards. For more information, see the indicator descriptions in the CalEnviroScreen version 2.0 report.

How can I find out my community’s CalEnviroScreen score?

The CalEnviroScreen website includes links to online maps. Using the search box in the upper right hand corner of the page, you can enter an address, a place name or GPS coordinates to zoom into a particular location on the map. Clicking on a census tract will bring up a box with the total CalEnviroScreen score as well as individual indicator scores for that census tract.

Where can I find more information about environmental justice and cumulative impacts of environmental exposures?

  1. Glossary of terms
  2. Links to other websites:
    1. CalEPA
    2. Environmental Justice Screening Method (EJSM)
    3. EJSCREEN, USEPA’s Environmental Justice Screening Tool
    4. California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA)