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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2578-2595; doi:10.3390/ijerph10062578
Article

Genetic k-Means Clustering Approach for Mapping Human Vulnerability to Chemical Hazards in the Industrialized City: A Case Study of Shanghai, China

 and
*
State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 May 2013 / Revised: 5 June 2013 / Accepted: 13 June 2013 / Published: 20 June 2013
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Abstract

Reducing human vulnerability to chemical hazards in the industrialized city is a matter of great urgency. Vulnerability mapping is an alternative approach for providing vulnerability-reducing interventions in a region. This study presents a method for mapping human vulnerability to chemical hazards by using clustering analysis for effective vulnerability reduction. Taking the city of Shanghai as the study area, we measure human exposure to chemical hazards by using the proximity model with additionally considering the toxicity of hazardous substances, and capture the sensitivity and coping capacity with corresponding indicators. We perform an improved k-means clustering approach on the basis of genetic algorithm by using a 500 m × 500 m geographical grid as basic spatial unit. The sum of squared errors and silhouette coefficient are combined to measure the quality of clustering and to determine the optimal clustering number. Clustering result reveals a set of six typical human vulnerability patterns that show distinct vulnerability dimension combinations. The vulnerability mapping of the study area reflects cluster-specific vulnerability characteristics and their spatial distribution. Finally, we suggest specific points that can provide new insights in rationally allocating the limited funds for the vulnerability reduction of each cluster.
Keywords: vulnerability mapping; k-means clustering; genetic algorithm; silhouette coefficient; industrialized city vulnerability mapping; k-means clustering; genetic algorithm; silhouette coefficient; industrialized city
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Shi, W.; Zeng, W. Genetic k-Means Clustering Approach for Mapping Human Vulnerability to Chemical Hazards in the Industrialized City: A Case Study of Shanghai, China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 2578-2595.

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