Mobile App Helps Locate Nearby Pollution Hazards

Posted by at 10:34 pm on February 24, 2011

If you’ve ever wondered how close your home or office is to a chemical facility and if the toxins it is releasing might impact your health, answers can be as close as your smartphone. A new mobile application known as My Right-to-Know (myRTK), designed and developed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Abt Associates, can enable you to easily access this information. All you need is a Web-enabled mobile device.

The MyRTK application launches with a map or list of facilities in close proximity to the mobile device, or near an address identified by the user. An easy-to-comprehend, graphically rich interface is used to simplify fairly complex information, including the facilities’ locations, relative size, chemical releases and their possible health effects, and a record of compliance with U.S. environmental laws. The Google-serviced maps are complemented with street and satellite views. The application includes suggestions of what mobile users might do next, such as report a potential violation from their device using a link to EPA’s enforcement office. MyRTK can be viewed at http://myrtk.epa.gov/info/.

“MyRTK will be a very useful resource for consumers, realtors, state and EPA inspectors, environmental advocacy groups, teachers, and many others interested in their environment,” said Andrew Stoeckle who managed the evolution of the application. Stoeckle who is vice president, principal associate and scientist at Abt Associates, said “People who are inquisitive about what chemicals might be present in areas where they live and work can now pull out their smartphones and access this data on the spot.”

MyRTK can run on a range of browsers, but the navigation, content, and functionality are optimized for information dissemination through mobile devices. In addition, the platform allows for other facility and place-based information to be added in the future.

The myRTK application displays:

  • A map identifying the facilities handling toxic chemicals in the selected area.
  • A list of facilities by name.
  • Street and satellite views of the facility for visual identification.
  • Information describing the business and size of each facility.
  • A summary of each facility’s toxic chemical releases.
  • A description of known health effects, including cancer and 17 other impacts, for each chemical.
  • A history of the facility’s compliance with the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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