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Visualization of the Day #1: Superfund 365

I don't know about you, but the first time I heard the word "Superfund," I thought it referred to something really cool or fun—it's not just any old fund, right? It's the Superfund. Right on!

Then I learned that Superfund is the federal government's program to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. And that new sites are being added faster than old ones can be cleared off the list. So, OK: maybe not so fun after all. superfund.jpg

We get our information about Superfund sites straight from the EPA, which has a ton of information online, including tools to map Superfund sites near your home. But a new site (commissioned, curiously enough, by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., with funding from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts) is working to bring the Superfund to life in a different way. I'll let them explain it:

Each day for a year, starting on September 1, 2007, Superfund365 will visit one toxic site currently active in the Superfund program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We begin the journey in the New York City area and work our way across the country, ending the year in Hawaii. (We will need a beach vacation by then!) In the end, the archive will consist of 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the total number on the Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL).

They're only up to site #5, but it's a promising project so far—with eye-catching visualizations of contaminants at each site, plus maps, photos, and assorted other data. It's not a fun, happy site by any means, but it's an admirable attempt to illuminate a problem that most people are aware of only in an abstract sense.

Superfund365 (via information aesthetics)

Image: No, it's not a Spirograph—that's a visualization of soil, groundwater, and building contaminants at the Jackson Steel manufacturing plant in Mineola, NY.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 5, 2007 9:39 AM.

The previous post in this blog was This Day In History: Sept. 5.

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