Blog Archives

Geo-medicine: Mapping our pollution exposures

My latest post on The Atlantic’s Cities website explores geo-medicine, a new field that uses GIS mapping to correlate environmental conditions to health risks like heart attacks and cancer. There’s even a free app that allows you to map the types of toxic exposures in everyplace you’ve ever lived and correlate them to the likelihood of developing cancer or dying of a heart attack.

Beyond charting the potential for your own personal doomsday, however, geo-medicine has many other applications: It can allow doctors to zoom in on a patient’s life to create a geographically enhanced medical history. Or it can zoom out to give public health officials, city planners and activists detail-rich insights on how to improve the well-being of entire communities.

Check out my story and let me know what you think!


Morning Green: Enviromental & Health News from Around the Web

Scientists at West Virginia University have found children with high levels of the toxic chemical C8 in their blood are more likely to have high cholesterol. C8 is a chemical used by DuPont starting in the 1950s at a plant near Parkersburg, W.V., where residents recently settled a class action suit against the company. You can read the whole story here.

Sealants used for decades as a topcoat on asphalt driveways are also coming under new scrutiny. The sealants are made of coal tar, the same stuff that burst a retention dam at a Tennessee coal powered electric plant last year and flooded the surrounding area with toxic sludge. That story can be found here.

Not everyone wants to hear about the risks, however. In California, where warning labels mandated by state law have graced a wide variety of products for two decades, there is new criticism that so many Cassandra-like admonitions have become meaningless to an increasingly complacent public. Here‘s that story.