There's been a surge of websites using Google Maps for environmental good. Joining the ranks is Planet Hazard, a website using the technology to map air polluters across the country.
The website uses data from the EPA's National Emission Inventory Database to allow users to view polluters on a national, state, county or city level. Beyond the name and location of the 86,320 polluters included, the exact pollutants being emitted and their quantities are listed for each company. The site includes a list of the top ten polluters in the country with Regional Sanitation District based in Elk Grove, Ca. topping the list. Ammonia makes up the largest chunk of its emissions.
I looked up my city and found the usual culprits like energy, industrial and manufacturing companies, but was surprised to see all the major hospitals listed. The main pollutants they are emitting are nitrogen oxides, most likely from burning fuel to heat the buildings. Of course, the hospitals significantly trail industrial sources in quantity of pollutants released.
The one thing to keep in mind is that the figures are from 2002, the last time that the EPA collected air emissions data, so it's possible that there are newer polluters that aren't included or that some of those listed are now closed. It's still a valuable resource for all of us who are interested in knowing exactly what is in the air we breathe and which companies are responsible.
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