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New Tools Make Understanding Air Quality Easier Than Ever

Release Date: 11/19/2007
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (202) 564-4355/ perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov; En español: Lina Younes, (202) 564-4355 / younes.lina@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. – November 19, 2007) Ever used your computer to "fly" through the mountains, or zoom in on a satellite picture of your house? Now you can use the same technology to learn more about emissions and air quality across the country and where you live.

EPA has developed two tools that let computer users "see" air quality information on a virtual globe. Both tools are available to the public starting today.

"Google has changed the way people use the Internet. By combining their innovative mapping tools with our air data, EPA and Google are changing the way people use the Internet to protect their health," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.

The first tool is part of the new "Air Emission Sources" Web site, which is designed to make emissions data for six common pollutants easy to find and understand. Based on the latest National Emissions Inventory, the site uses charts and Google Earth files to answer a user’s questions. Users can look at overall emissions, emissions by type of industry, or emissions by largest polluter.

Want to know what industry emits the most sulfur dioxide in your state? Select your state from a map, pick a pollutant, and the site creates a chart showing you emissions by industry. Want to "see" which refineries in your state emit the most sulfur dioxide? Use the "tilt" feature in Google Earth to quickly find the largest emitter. Then click on the balloon to get more details about emissions from that facility.

EPA also is providing Air Quality Index (AQI) information in the Google Earth format. Use the AQI tool to quickly see air quality across the country, then click on a specific location to see that city’s AQI forecast and current levels of ozone or particle pollution.

The AQI is EPA’s color-coded tool to inform the public about daily air pollution levels in their communities. EPA, in collaboration with state and local governments, provides AQI forecasts and conditions for more than 300 cities across the United States.

On the web:
Go to the Air Emissions Sources Web site: http://www.epa.gov/air/emissions
View information in Google Earth format about which facilities emit any of six common pollutants: http://www.epa.gov/air/emissions/where.htm
See AQI forecasts and current conditions: http://www.airnow.gov
View air quality information in Google Earth format: http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=google_earth.main
EPA is also using the Google Earth platform to display Acid Rain Program data: http://epa.gov/airmarkets/progress/interactivemapping.html