Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation


Department 1

Environmental Studies


The salvage yard represents the final waypoint in the cradle-to-grave cycle of the automobile. Residual amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and acids used in automobiles can be extremely harmful to human health and the environment if not managed correctly. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which minority populations were exposed to the hazards of the auto salvage industry. Census data for population, income, race/ethnicity, sex, and age were organized using ArcGIS software. Population demographics were analyzed in the areas surrounding 98 auto salvage yards found in Philadelphia and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia County, the results showed that low-income minorities, females, and 65+ individuals are over represented groups near auto salvage yards. Conversely, Adams County showed few spatial relationships in demographic distribution. Our findings suggest that in urban counties, such as Philadelphia, depressed property values have resulted in a large percentage of below average income minorities inhabiting areas in close proximity to auto salvage yards. On the other hand, auto salvage yards in rural areas, such as Adams County, do not appear to have the same effect because population density and racial diversity are much lower.


Environmental Studies Thesis