Fog This Morning
The Bush Tax

The EPA's Toxic Release Inventory Explorer

I found a new Internet toy this morning: Explore toxic releases in your area with the EPA's TRI [Toxic Release Inventory] Explorer. Westchester, being one of of the places the suburbs were invented, is not heavily burdened with polluting industries. The GM plant in Tarrytown was Westchester's biggest polluter, and they've closed down. 1990 was the worst year in Westchester for toxic emissons since the TRI reporting began. In that year, the GM plant accounted for two thirds of the toxic releases in the county. I don't see the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in the data, but maybe I missed it.

I did, however, find that in 1988 the company that occupied the building where our pediatric dentist is currently located released 9,629 lbs. of Ý1,1,1-TRICHLOROETHANE into the air.

Entering Kevin Maroney's zip code in Yonkers reveals that STEWART EFI NY L.L.C., 630 CENTRAL PARK AVE., YONKERS ( Public Contact: PHILIP REJESKI; Phone Number: 914 965-0816) released 7,319 lbs. of DICHLOROMETHANE and 2,918 lbs. of ÝTRICHLOROETHYLENE into the air in 2001, the most recent year for which data is available in the TRI Explorer. According to Mapquest, Stewart EFI is a mile away from Kevin's house, adjacent the Yonker's Raceway.

I chose Kevin's zip code to punch in because his family pet rats have health problems, respiratory problems among them. Their previous pets, rabbits, died of cancer. Since Kevin's family believes in vetenary care for small mammals, their pets' health problems are very well-documented. In Steingraber's Living Downstream, there's a passage that made me think about the rats with respiratory problems:

In the late 1980s, [anthropologist Martha] Balshem served as a health educator in an industrial, working-class community near Philadelphia where cancer rates were discovered unusually high. In response the cancer control program of which she was part launched a public outreach campaign urging residents to adopt healthier lifestyles. The residents themselves suspected environmental causes and reported to the educational team that many neighborhood dogs were also afflicted with cancer: Did their pets have faulty personal habits as well?

Is there something intrinsic to Kevin's rats that makes them have respiratory problems, or is his household inadvertently running an experiment that shows that the air in his neighborhood causes respiratory problems in rats? The Toxic Release Inventory suggests the later. (Kevin replies in the comments.)

Explore: Try your zip code or county and tell me what you find.

AND FOR MORE INTERNET FUN, check out UK Tobacco Industry Advertising Documents Database

Welcome to Here you can search, view and download over 650 documents from the UK tobacco industry's main advertising agencies ranging from 1994 to 1999.

You can use the search box for free text searches to see examples of letters and memos sent between tobacco companies and their advertising agencies as they planned their campaigns to promote cigarettes, cigars and rolling tobacco to people in the UK.

In 1999, the Centre for Tobacco Control Research at the University of Strathclyde was asked to examine these documents by the House of Commons Health Select Committee who was investigating the UK Tobacco Industry and its practices. Funding by NHS Health Scotland has allowed these documents to be scanned and made into a searchable electronic archive for the public.