(Todd Yoder, Brian Koldyke, Liza Elfmann, 1992)
One of the most common topics of conversation found today involves the theme of environmental awareness. Everyone seems to be more conscious of their surroundings and what exactly is happening to the area directly affecting them. The most immediate danger to the environment to be concentrated on in this study was that of toxic chemical spills and their release into the air. The Environmental Protection Agency has labeled 370 chemicals as hazardous due to their inherent toxicity and ability to cause severe health effects to humans exposed. This list was the one which was utilized in this study. In order to narrow the scope of the project, the study was limited to the confines of a specific geographic area within the city of Dallas. The area in which the study focused was one which possessed natural boundaries and a diverse land usage distribution. The boundaries were made up of major road arteries in the city and they encompassed an airport, industrial sector, office and retail businesses, and a large residential population. The area was further diversified by the types of facilities that were present and the chemicals in which they used.
In attempt to narrow the study again, only those chemicals located within the confines of the facility were dealt with, transportation and routing of the chemicals were not selected as a priority. In addition, fire, explosion, and reactivity of the chemicals, which are all important factors, were not taken into account. The major area of interest was the airborne release of chemicals, and the magnitude of the effect on the surrounding population. The design of this study was to locate the dangerous facilities within a given region and assign a quantitative ranking to them relative to the other facilities located within that specific region. In doing this there were many factors which were perceived as important. These factors included the number of people around the facility, the location of schools, nursing homes, and hospitals in reference to the facility, the past history of chemical spills at the facility, and on-site safety measures at each facility. Out of these many factors, three were concentrated on, the population, the chemicals at the actual facility, and the land use surrounding the facility. These factors provide for all the aspects of the encompassed area to be taken into effect and do not sacrifice any important, crucial information. Since their are no other similar studies to base the results on, some quantitative assumptions were forced to be made which will be discussed further in their appropriate sections. This study results in a tool which can be used for administrative means of planning or forecasting for possible dangers.