Open Environmental data and pollution measurements

(this page is part of my Open Data, Open Society report. Please follow that link to reach the introduction and Table of Content, but don’t forget to check the notes to readers!)

A website devoted to climate change issues asked in July 2010 “What if the Public Had Perfect Climate Information 30 years ago?": “that would completely change the amount of information we have today. We would have seen that emissions reduction is inexpensive and straightforward, especially when you take a long time horizon. We would certainly be on a path to below 450 ppm.

Lots of PSI (Public Sector Information) of this kind already exists, and much more should be made available to make it as easy as possible to be informed about one’s personal contributions to pollution, with statistics and graphs similar to those generated for the USA by

Open Environmental data and pollution measurements /img/tons_of_CO2_per_person_DataMasher.png

The European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR) is an Europe-wide register that provides easily accessible key environmental data from 24,000 industrial facilities covering 65 economic activities across the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, from amounts of pollutant released to air, water and land to off-site transfers of waste and of pollutants in waste water from a list of 91 key pollutants including heavy metals, pesticides, greenhouse gases and dioxins for the year 2007.

This register should allow citizens to know the emissions of industrial facilities across Europe, but in order to work as advertised it needs to be complete (meaning that industries should be required by law to provide and always keep up to date their data) and usable as a control instrument by whoever is interested in doing so. An article about this register said in November 2009 that “it is fundamental for its success that EU states verify the quality of the data inside the register”. Why shouldn’t the all raw data that the states should use to performs such check also available online?

Those data could in such a case be compared or mixed with other independent sources, like the UK air quality archive that shows pollutants detected in many UK monitoring sites, or airTEXT, a service for people who live or work in London and may be affected by higher than normal levels of air pollution because they suffer from asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease or angina.

Open Environmental data and pollution measurements /img/airtext_info.png

airTEXT Subscribers receive free SMS, email or voice messages to know when they should be taking inhaler or angina spray with you or avoiding strenuous outdoor activity.