EPA unveils new neighborhood map website

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- How much do you know about your own neighborhood about serious issues like air quality, or toxic chemicals, or even noise from traffic? That information on where you live is now at your fingertips.

The Yosemite slough on the San Francisco shoreline has a rustic beauty, but there's also warning signs of hidden pollution left over from decades of heavy industrial use in San Francisco's Bayview District.

A new website launched by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is helping neighbors better understand challenges like the Yosemite slough. It's called the EJSCREEN, short for environmental justice. Users can pull up easy to read maps and charts with data on things like local air quality, waste water disposal, and the location of industrial chemicals.

"This is telling us about facilities that need risk management," said Chuck Swanson of the EPA. "These are facilities that handle chemicals."

The information is drawn from the EPA's vast database. Program manager Deldi Reyes says the website also provides an in-depth snapshot of each neighborhood by including information like traffic, income levels, and demographic breakdowns.

"Information is power," said Reyes. "It can be used in lots of different ways."

Like determining which languages needed to be included on the toxic warning signs in the case of Yosemite slough. The broader measurements of things like air and water pollutants could also give local activists a powerful tool for change. A full-scale clean-up project beginning at Yosemite slough followed years of lobbying by neighbors.

"We'd love to see people use the tool in ways that are important to them, to understand the communities they live and have dialogue with others and agencies about issues that are important to them," Reyes said.

And possibly begin the process of change with the click of a mouse.

Click here to learn more about the EPA's new Environmental Justice website.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.
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