DATABASE: The Dirt on Pollution

Science  24 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5606, pp. 485
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5606.485c

Last month, when the Bush Administration proposed relaxing clean-air rules for power plants, nine Northeastern states filed suit, charging that the changes would exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases. The link between human illness and pollution remains a battleground. Researchers probing the connection can find county-by-county and state-by-state breakdowns of emissions at The 3-year-old site, created by Environmental Defense, reflects the advocacy group's green agenda, but it's also a rich vein of raw information. Its databases merge figures from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, state regulatory agencies, and other sources.

Reports for each state provide data in eight categories, including lead exposure, levels of harmful air pollutants, release of toxic chemicals from industries, watershed health, and animal waste. County reports detail annual releases of toxic chemicals by individual plants and the location of Superfund sites. The site also profiles health effects and uses of more than 6900 hazardous chemicals, from antimony to zirconium.

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