EnviroFacts/Window to my Environment

About the author: Kim Blair is currently an intern with Environmental Education and Indoor Air Programs in Region 5. She has an extensive environmental education background and is enjoying utilizing her previous experience at the EPA. She has been working with the EE coordinator on facilitating grants and the Web Workgroup along with getting hands on experience working on a geographic initiative in Northeast Indiana with the Indoor Air Programs.

When I was in high school I spent a lot of time doing research for different projects from history to chemistry. There was always some project that I was struggling to finish or striving to think of a way to make my research stand out to the teacher. Well, the EPA has a great tool to impress your teachers and to get information you didn’t think was even out there. It’s called EnviroFacts. Besides the flashy name – it’s ok to admit that you think it is a pretty cool name too – there are so many interactive things that this program can do. Visit http://www.epa.gov/enviro/ to get started exploring this newly updated program.

So what exactly is EnviroFacts? It’s a program that maps your area of choice with specific details about water quality, hazardous waste, air and land toxics, compliance issues and more. The tool is based on GIS (Geographic Information Systems) where data that is collected is input into a visual format like a map. You can customize what type of information you would like to display on your map or even map by topic instead of location to learn more about that issue. You can also share this site with your friends over Facebook, Stumbleupon and other social networks.

Here’s a sample of a map I looked up by zip code to get even more specific data displayed using the Enviromapper and Window to My Environment. I mapped the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago to see what kinds of environmental impacts are important to the area. You can modify your map according to your area of interest and find out a lot about that area besides just the hazardous waste sites. You can also obtain facility information for potential or current pollution issues.

Sample map and legend from GIS

The possibilities are endless as you explore your world on a different level. This resource can be used for school or for your own personal interests. Maybe it could lead to community service projects based on the pollution issues in your area or a great visual for a class project. You can also take a look at the Community Service Projects page on EPA’s High School Website or just see the resources out there for you to use.

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