Mapps for America


Two simple maps making environmental hazard data more meaningful round out our list of Apps for America 2 honorable mentions. GreenSpace Map highlights six categories of sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency on a Google Maps overlay within a slick Java applet, including Superfund sites and Toxic Release Inventory flags. (Be careful when searching, however: The map seems to be picky about loading location pins. When I search for Washington, DC, only three flags pop up, but when I add a zip code, more appear.)

Superfund Finder

lets you assess the national data without knowing what location you’re interested in, beginning with tallies for each state. From there, you can zoom in to identify individual sites near you. (The definition of a superfund site seems to differ between the apps; the second application shows one superfund site in Southwest Washington, DC, while the first doesn’t. Documentation indicates that the first app draws from the EPA’s Featured Environmental Interests,while the second examines its National Priorities List.)

With some of these metrics, transparency has the potential to serve as a catalyst for change. Without imposing caps on factories, the Toxic Release Inventory requires them to disclose potentially harmful chemicals being used, and the more eyes there are on such data, the less likely factories will be willing to use—and therefore have to disclose—them. The EPA itself has provided a handful of rudimentary tools for examining TRI, but these environmental apps make it easy for anyone.