There are so many environmental exposures that affect human and animal health in so many ways that it is impossible to cover them all. One fruitful way to provide a project that will educate and inform is to use the EPA EnvironMapper for a guide to local environmental hazards and conditions.
Of the many anthropogenic substances and contributions to air, land and water pollution, the best introduction is to do an environmental risk assesment survey for your own area or for other areas of interest!
The EPA Environmapper combines Google Maps technology with EPA databases and reports databases to show the locations and producers of toxic substances, with the classic balloon format. Each balloon provides links to more and more details.
There are also special categories of search that will show information about particular air, water, chemical, land, and other information about toxic material in the chosen area.
The first step is to enter a zip code or city name for a local area. In this case Richmond, California was the test location. The population is almost equally divided between White, Black and Hispanic with a large population of other ethnicities. The median income is in the $40 thousands US, and the average home price is about 150 thousand US. The median age is in the thirties.
The 94850 Zip code was used because it centers in residential North Richmond, which is a San Francisco Bay Area industrial/residential city that is within 15 miles of San Francisco, CA. Richmond has a concentration of varied industrial activities, a medium to lower income profile, and is within 15 miles of most other Bay area cities in the San Francisco megalopolis.
The environmental mapping system allows the researcher to examine the following categories: air, water, waste, land, toxics and radiation. The information that comes up is linked to reports that are made to the EPA and on other EPA databases.
Also available are program systems, chemicals, industry and "Map Contents". Once a category is selected, a Google Map will show balloons with detailed information about the reporting entity, with a pathway to more and more detailed information.
This system is so refined that individual chemicals can be selected and a map of the reporting agencies or firms that use those chemicals will come up. In the case of Richmond, there are 14 chemicals that begin with "A". Acenaphthylene is the first chemical that comes up, and a list of entities that report this chemical come up.
A detailed series of reports from the EPA Substance Registery Services come up when the chemical name is clicked on . Acenaphthylene is related to oral and inhalation cancers and non cancers, for example. There are references to more detailed information on the chemical.
In summary, for the best introduction to identifying and studying Environmental exposures and their relationships to human health, try the Environmapper for your US zip code or city of choice, and explore the various features and databases to find a toxin/health profile and to make a customized risk assessment. Also, when particular toxins or chemicals are of concern, detailed information can be quickly gained.