DATABASE: Something in the Air

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Science  13 Jan 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5758, pp. 153
DOI: 10.1126/science.311.5758.153d

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new limits on PM2.5, tiny particles spewed from power plants and vehicles that are implicated in heart attacks and other diseases (Science, 6 January, p. 27). A new air-quality database funded by the nonprofit Health Effects Institute in Boston can help researchers untangle how PM2.5 causes illness. The site, run by the contractor Atmospheric and Environmental Research of Lexington, Massachusetts, houses measurements gathered between 2000 and 2004 by an EPA network that monitors fine particles at 54 sites and by more than 200 other stations around the country. Click on a U.S. map to see trends in fine particle levels and components such as ammonium and sulfate at a specific location. You can also download daily measurements of PM2.5 and other pollutants, along with meteorological data such as temperature and wind speed. The database is free, but users have to e-mail the company to request access.

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