DENVER, CO – The Colorado Department of Health and Environment on Monday announced the pre-launch of a new interactive map called the Colorado EnviroScreen, designed to help the state prepare for a more accurate approach to environmental health in local communities. The interactive tool will be in beta testing from April 18 through May 1, and the health department has encouraged Coloradans to try the tool.
The purpose of this tool is to highlight areas of Colorado that are more likely to experience “higher environmental health injustices.” according to the map site. It will also identify areas that meet the criteria for a “disproportionately affected community,” allowing the state to prioritize resources to reduce pollution and address environmental health violations.
The tool, the website says, does not identify “all” areas that could be affected by environmental health issues, nor does it provide information on individual health issues that may result from environmental health. .
“EnviroScreen is an important tool in our work toward environmental justice,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, the director general of the CDPHE, in a press release. “Everyone, no matter where they live, work, play or learn, deserves to have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and an environment free of pollutants. The information provided by EnviroScreen will help to focus our work and our community grants program in areas that have been plagued with environmental issues for far too long.”
Colorado EnviroScreen will use environmental and demographic factors to calculate a score for each county, census tract and census block group in the state, the website says. A higher score means the area is “more likely to be affected by an environmental health injustice.”
“Developing a trusted resource to address environmental injustices in Colorado is our #1 goal,” said David Rojas Rueda, project manager for the CSU team and member of the Environmental Justice Advisory Board. “A key takeaway from our community engagement sessions is that EnviroScreen is only useful to communities if it reflects their feedback and lived experiences. We know this is fundamental to our purpose.”