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Don’t Inhale

Do you live in Missoula? Ever wonder what’s in all that brown air you breath all winter? Well, I found a cool site where you can find out. It’s called This We Know and they have an interface to all kinds of government data collected about your community. Just type in the name of your town or you zip code and you can find lots of interesting information.

For instance, type in “Missoula, MT” and you will find that there are 16,518 Home Owners and 12,801 Renters in Missoula, or that 58% of people in Missoula have relocated in the past 15 years (2000 census data). But, here’s what I found really interesting; From data collected by EPA for the 2005 Toxics Release Inventory. You can find out that 1,390,680 pounds of 21 pollutants were released in Missoula, or within 24 miles, by six industries. This includes some really fun stuff like,

From the Conoco Products Terminal

  • 342 pounds of Trimethylbenzene released into the air.
  • 576 pounds of Benzene into the air
  • 1,542 pounds of Toluene

From Hexion Speciality Chemicals

  • 5,497 pounds of Formaldehyde into the Missoula air space
  • 11,692 pounds of Methanol

Roseburg Forest Products

  • 83,474 pounds of Formaldehyde
  • 46,925 pounds of Methanol
  • 11.7 pounds of lead

Smurfit Stone Container

  • 73,000 pounds of Acetaldehyde in air and 1,500 pounds into the water
  • 107,000 pounds of Ammonia and 1,000 pounds into the water
  • 21,000 pounds of Formaldehyde
  • 18 pounds of lead
  • 168 pounds of lead compounds into the air and
  • 440 pounds of lead compounds in the water

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea. Maybe you should think more seriously about what you are actually sucking out of that brown cloud. How does Missoula compare to it’s neighbors? How about Kalispell. 872 pounds of two pollutants. Okay, maybe not a fair comparison. How about Spokane, WA. 162,371 pounds of 31 pollutants were released into the Spokane environment in 2005. That’s 12% as much as Missoula. Ouch!  How long can you hold your breath.

Of course you can dig this information out of the gigabytes of data files from the EPA at data.gov, but it’s way cool to have somebody else do the heavy lifting.


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