How do you feel about Houston’s airborne cancer hotspots? That’s easy! Just pick up a copy of the latest issue of Cite magazine and run your fingers over the top of it: Cite 93‘s front cover has been embossed with a map diagramming the area’s cancer risk. The places where airborne toxins mapped by the EPA are most prevalent are in the pits.
The mapped information here isn’t exactly fresh — it’s from the 2005 National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment, and the data only account for airborne known-cancer-causing toxins that are tracked by the EPA. Though it’s posted online, the map version isn’t exactly easy to find. But bravely thumbing his nose at Houston’s proud and longstanding tradition of hush-hushing location-based cancer hazards, Cite editor Raj Mankad gives Swamplot readers the secret recipe for finding the browsable map:
1) Go to epa.gov
2) Scroll down to My Environment in the lower left corner. Enter “Houston” and click go.
3) The page that loads has a slider thingy at the top. The cancer map is the fourth item. It is represented by a symbol that looks like a fat asterisk. The title for that link is “MyHealth.” It doesn’t say anything about cancer at first. Click on that fat asterisk.
4) A small mapping tool loads. In the upper left corner, you have to click on the Cancer Risk button for the data to load.
This link sort of works.
Now wasn’t that easy?
Notably, Houston’s max dark blue zone as mapped by the EPA site extends not just over the sorta-bluish waters of the Houston Ship Channel, but across Downtown as well, and even into the steadily beating heart of the Texas Medical Center. The numbers for this danger zone, 75-150, represent the risk (per million persons) of someone developing any type of cancer over a lifetime — above and beyond, that is, the risk of anyone else not exposed to the same measured toxins in that area.
That broad swath of outcomes, mapped by census tract, paints Deer Park, Channelview, Cottage Grove, and the Galleria the same indigo hue. Meanwhile, there’s a swath of land south of the old Pierce Junction oil fields where the air is looking mighty fresh and clear in comparison.
- What’s your cancer risk in Houston? (Bigger than in Dallas) [OffCite]
- MyEnvironment [USEPA]