The Importance of Statistical Design in Spatial Analysis: Indiana Superfund Site Locations and Socioeconomic Variables

Primary Submission Contact

Jenna Johnston

Faculty Sponsor

Jon-Paul McCool

Faculty Sponsor Email Address



Arts and Sciences


Geography and Environmental Science

Document Type

Poster Presentation


Fall 10-25-2019


Environmental justice research has focused on the question of whether marginalized people are more likely to live close to polluted sites. These spatial disparities have been found when analyzing the distribution of Superfund sites with race and socioeconomic status. However, these results appear to be dependent on what methods and units of analysis are used. This study examines whether these disparities exist in Indiana by comparing the results of two different statistical tests: a t-test and bootstrapping analysis.

Using t-tests to compare median income in areas close to and far from Superfund sites at distances of 1 and 5 miles yielded highly statistically significant results, indicating that proximity to Superfund sites is a significant predictor of lower median income in Indiana. Refining our initial approach shored up issues related to the independence assumption through bootstrapping and looked at additional variables. However, no statistically significant differences were observed using these methods.

This project highlights the importance of appropriate statistical design when examining relationships between geographic and socio-political variables. Further work will take a multifactorial approach and will compare values around Superfund sites to the distribution of values for a simulated set of random sites.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Jenna Johnston is a junior Environmental Science and Biology major. She became interested in environmental justice research during her freshman year, and began background work for this project during her sophomore year, as a part of class projects for both Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Data Analysis.

Cecilia Hall is a recent graduate of Valparaiso University with a degree in Meteorology.

Additional Presentation Information

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