John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


Perceived pollution around an industrial site: small area mapping using the Insee census grid Volume 15, issue 2, March-April 2016


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1 Département santé environnement
Institut de veille sanitaire
12, rue du Val d’Osne
95415 Saint-Maurice cedex
2 Agence régionale de santé Languedoc-Roussillon
Parc Club du Millénaire
1025, rue Henri-Becquerel
CS 30001
34067 Montpellier Cedex 2
* Tirés à part
  • Key words: geographic mapping, environmental health, grid, perceived pollution
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2016.0842
  • Page(s) : 153-64
  • Published in: 2016

Epidemiological studies of environmental health now commonly use geographic information systems (GIS) for both data analysis and the presentation of results. The GIS presented here was developed as part of an epidemiological study conducted around a chemical industrial site in Salindres in the Gard district. One of its objectives was to produce an atlas based on an extremely detailed geographical division of the territory to map individual data produced by the study without compromising the anonymity of respondents. The division of space by grids recently proposed by the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) was considered the most suitable in this case.

This article shows how Insee grids can be used to map the results of the epidemiological study to provide feedback to local stakeholders and decision makers. By grouping squares measuring 200 meters into rectangles of different sizes designed to contain a minimum of 11 tax households, the Insee grids provided finely detailed mapping of the epidemiological study while guaranteeing the anonymity of participants.

The article illustrates how mapping can be used to describe exposure to olfactory, sound, and visual pollution attributed to the industrial site and experienced by the local community. The joint presentation of these indicators of perceived exposure to pollution together with objective information, such as air particle concentration, distance from the industrial site and topography, helped to illustrate the population's perceptions to local stakeholders and decision makers.

This baseline geographic division provides very interesting perspectives for presenting sensitive or confidential data, particularly in public health situations involving local exposure.