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National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Friday, December 3, 2004

Robert Mehnert

New Web Site Pinpoints Harmful Chemicals in Communities

Bethesda, Maryland — The National Library of Medicine (NLM), a part of the National Institutes of Health, announces an interactive Web site that shows — on maps — the amount and location of certain toxic chemicals released into the environment in the United States. The site, called TOXMAP, is free and no registration is required. The Web address is http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov.

TOXMAP focuses on the geographic distribution of chemical releases, their relative amounts, and their trends over time. This release data comes from industrial facilities around the United States, as reported annually to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). TOXMAP also links to NLM's extensive collection of toxicology and environmental health references, as well as to a rich resource of data on hazardous chemical substances in its TOXNET databases (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/). There are also fact sheets and summaries about the various chemicals, written by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

For example, a family moving to a new city can locate facilities releasing toxic chemicals by entering the city's name and state, generating a map of facilities in that area. For each facility, information, including location and chemicals released, is provided. Information about the health effects of the specific chemicals identified is also provided.

Dr. Jack Snyder, NLM Associate Director for Specialized Information Services, said, "The National Library of Medicine has a special mission to address toxicology and environmental health needs. TOXMAP is part of this mission, and allows us to serve the public and professionals in a unique way. This Web site allows users to explore maps of what and where chemicals are released and by whom."

"In the last several years, the Library has created a number of Web sites with the consumer in mind," said NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. "TOXMAP is a prime example. It joins Web resources for consumer health information broadly (MedlinePlus.gov), research studies (ClinicalTrials.gov), and older Americans (NIHSeniorHealth.gov)."

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest library of the health sciences, is a component of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.

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