What’s In Your Backyard?
A How-To Guide Using EPA MyEnviroMapper
First, visit EPA’s MyEnviroMapper.
Enter the area you wish to map. You may “Enter a location such as address, zip, city, county, waterbody, park name, etc. (e.g., 22207, Arlington, VA or Difficult Run).”
At first, the map likely will be “zoomed out” far beyond the boundaries of your search area.
Let us make it easier to see the location we wish to map by adding city and county boundaries. Click to expand the More Data menu option, then Additional Data Layers, then click to select Boundaries.
To zoom in closer on our area of interest, repeatedly click the plus (+) button, upper left on the map, until you achieve the level of magnification desired. (If you accidentally zoom in too far, simply use the minus (-) button to zoom back out again.)
Now let us add churches. As we did above to add Boundaries, click to expand the More Data drop-down, then expand Additional Data Layers, then click Places. In the Select Map Contents list that has now appeared in the upper right of the map, click the Churches box.
At this county-wide magnification level, the clutter is overwhelming! Let us zoom in further by clicking the plus (+) button, upper left on the map. You can also scroll the map by simply clicking and dragging it.
Note: Items selected in the “Select Map Contents” menu represent overlapping layers of information. Layers that are selected higher in the list, such as Cities and Counties, may prevent our clicking on points of interest, such as individual churches. Now that we are zoomed in, un-select Cities and Counties. You can turn them back on by clicking them again at any time.
Below, we have zoomed in to North Birmingham and turned off the overlying city and county layers, we can click the icon of an individual church to view its details:
Now let us add environmental health/justice-related information. Click to expand the Search Envirofacts menu item, then click Search by Program.
In the Select EPA program system(s) to map list that has now appeared to the left of our map, click to select the Superfund Sites checkbox. (If this box is unavailable/grayed-out, click the minus (-) button in the upper left of the map to zoom out until it becomes available.)
In the map above, we can see a green flag near 35th Avenue North Birmingham. If we click it, we can see the details of the 35th Avenue Superfund site.
Zooming in on this area, we can see individual residences and churches adjacent to this public health hazard.
Experiment with other map options, such as Air Pollution (ICIS-AIR), Toxic Releases (TRI), Hazardous Waste (RCRAInfo), Water Dischargers (NPDES), and Brownfields (ACRES). Please note that not all facilities listed pose a public health threat.