World Wide Web Resources for Researching Environmental Issues

This list describes some of the best resources available on the World Wide Web for starting research on environmental topics.  While the list is not exhaustive, it contains some of the most useful web sites.  We have divided the list into nine categories:

           General Resources – gives the web sites that provide general information on environmental issues.  Some of the web sites landed in this category because they do not fit elsewhere.

           Researching Chemicals – lists the web sites that help users understand the environmental, human health and wildlife dangers of chemicals.

           Sources of Publications – provides information on web sites that offer free publications on a range of environmental issues.

           Visualizing the Relationship of Chemicals to Human Health is a listing of some of the best web sites that try to map the relationship between illnesses and environmental exposures.

           Pesticides – lists the best web sites for finding information on pesticides.

           Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including Chlorine, Dioxin, and PCBs  -- POPs are a class of chemicals that are particularly troublesome and this section lists some of the web sites with the best information on POPs.

           Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention and Clean Production – gives the best web sites for finding information on reducing and preventing pollution.

           Emerging Public Policies – provides information on the groups and web sites that are doing the best work on what policies would prevent environmental problems in the future.

           Occupational Safety and Health – lists web sites for committees on occupational safety and health that have resources on hazards on the job.


General Resources

Environmental Research Foundation []

Environmental Research Foundation (ERF) publishes Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly to inform grass-roots activists and the interested public about the relationships between hazardous materials, environmental quality and human health.  ERF’s bi-lingual (English and Spanish) web site includes all back issues of Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly, an extensive directory of citizens’ grass-roots action organizations, a library of documents, and links to many related web sites.

GOV.Research_Center []

The GOV.Research_Center (GRC) is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Technical Information Service and the National Information Services Corporation to provide a single access point to valuable government information.  GRC includes databases on agriculture and life sciences, energy science and technology, nuclear science, federal research in progress, occupational safety and health, and toxic effects of chemicals.  While this databank is expensive ($860.00 for a single user per year) it has a 30-day free trial offer. 

Law Librarian’s Society of Washington, D.C., Quick Links To House And Senate Committee Documents And Hearings []

This site provides links to U.S. House and Senate Committee Hearings.  The site is organized by Committees and includes schedules, transcripts, testimony, published hearings and publications.  The House Committee on Resources and the Senate Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Environment and Public Works; and Energy and Natural Resources are of interest for environmental issues.

National Cancer Institutes SEER Database []

The SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) Program of the National Cancer Institute is the most authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States. Information on more than 2.5 million cancer cases is included in the SEER database, and approximately 160,000 new cases are accessioned each year within the SEER catchment areas. SEER data, publications, and resources are available free of charge.  Of particular interest are the Cancer Statistics Reviews, which are available on the web at

Right-to-Know Network []

The Right-to-Know Network (which pre-dates the world wide web by several years) provides free access to numerous databases, text files, and conferences on the environment, and sustainable development. With the breadth of information available on RTK NET, you can identify specific factories or industries and their environmental effects on particular geographical areas, including toxic releases, chemical spills and accidents, permit violations, and more.

Scorecard []

Scorecard is an environmental information service provided by Environmental Defense (formerly Environmental Defense Fund). Scorecard provides current information on toxic waste sites all over the U.S. You can enter your zip code and find out the air pollution levels, animal waste levels, etc. in your area. It also includes links to related health information and can show you maps of areas you select.  This web site is a knock-out. 

Sierra Club Toxics []

This web site provides information on the Club’s work on cancer, environmental justice, Superfund sites, Brownfields (contaminated urban sites slated for re-development), incineration, and polluter secrecy.  You will also find links to some of the reports the Club has published on these issues.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) []

The EPA web site is loaded with useful information particularly related to federal environmental laws and regulations.  Particularly useful are the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) found at and the National Primary Drinking Water Standards found at


Researching Chemicals

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQs []

ATSDR ToxFAQs is a series of summaries about hazardous substances being developed by the ATSDR Division of Toxicology.  Information for this series is excerpted from the book length ATSDR Toxicological Profiles and Public Health Statements.  Each fact sheet serves as a quick and easy to understand guide. Answers are provided to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about exposure to hazardous substances found around hazardous waste sites and the effects of exposure on human health.

IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) []

The IARC Monographs series are authoritative independent assessments by international experts of the carcinogenic risks posed to humans by a variety of agents, mixtures and exposures. Since its inception in 1972, the series has reviewed more than 850 agents, and IARC Monographs have become well-known for their thoroughness, accuracy and integrity. To aid in the selection of future topics, the program also monitors long-term carcinogenicity testing underway in various laboratories throughout the world and publishes the results on this web site as a Directory of Agents Being Tested for Carcinogenicity.  This web site is searchable.

National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Database []

PubMed is the National Library of Medicine's search service that provides access to over 11 million citations in MEDLINE, PreMEDLINE, and other related databases, with links to participating online journals.  A user can conduct research on specific chemicals and some combinations of chemicals.  In conjunction with a service called Lonesome Doc a user can acquire these articles from a medical library.

National Library of Medicine’s TOXNET (Toxicology Data Network) []

This web site allows a user to search a cluster of databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, and related areas.  Databases included on this site are:  1) Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) – a scientifically peer-reviewed database including human and animal toxicity, safety and handling, environmental fate, and more; 2) Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database of human health risk assessments, focusing on hazard identification and dose-response assessment; 3) Chemical Carcinogenesis Research Information System (CCRIS) – the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) database on carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, tumor promotion, and tumor inhibition; and 4) GENE-TOX – the EPA’s peer-reviewed mutagenicity test data.

New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services’ Right to Know Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets []

Under the New Jersey Labor and Community Right to Know Law, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services was required to produce Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets.  They have now published over 1260 profiles of chemicals.  Over 920 of these have been put onto the Department’s web site.  Designed for workplace use, we feel these are the best and most reliable Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).  For each chemical these six-page fact sheets give the following information:

           Hazard Summary (summary of known health effects);

           Identification (physical description of the chemical);

           Reason for Citation (includes which regulations the chemical falls under and if it causes dangerous health effects, such as cancer or genetic damage);

           How to Determine if You are Being Exposed;

           Workplace Exposure Limits (gives the exposure limits set for the workplace by regulations);

           Ways of Reducing Exposure;

           Health Hazard Information (goes into more detail than the hazard summary, and includes information on acute health effects and chronic health effects, cancer hazard, reproductive hazard, and other long-term effects);

           Medical (includes information on medical testing and mixed exposures);

           Workplace Controls and Practices (gives specific recommendations for engineering controls to reduce exposure);

           Personal Protective Equipment (including clothing, eye protection and respiratory protection);

           Questions and Answers;

           Definitions (explains all the technical terms, acronyms or abbreviations and units of measure used in the fact sheet);

           Fire Hazards;

           Spills and Emergencies (including the steps to take if the chemical is accidently spilled);

           Handling and Storage (including the chemicals with which this particular chemical is not compatible);

           First Aid (including for eye contact, skin contact and inhalation);

           Physical Data (including vapor pressure and water solubility); and

           Other Commonly Used Names.


Sources of Publications

Environmental Working Group []

The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) staff of 18 researchers, computer experts and writers produces dozens of headline‑making reports each year based on original EWG analyses of data from government and other sources.  Be sure to check their archive for reports dating back to 1996 on air pollution, drinking water quality, enforcement, farm subsidies, pesticides, industrial toxicants, transportation, and wetlands.

National Wildlife Federation []

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is one of the nation's largest member‑supported conservation groups.  NWF has done extensive work on the effects of toxicants on wildlife.

Natural Resources Defense Council []

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) website provides a broad-ranging perspective on what's happening to the global environment.  This omnibus site includes news, legislative updates, scientific research, and policy analyses. NRDC offers publications on clean air and energy; global warming; clean water; oceans; wildlife and fish; parks, forests and wildlands; toxic chemicals and health; nuclear weapons and waste; cities and green living; and environmental legislation.

Visualizing the Relationship of Chemicals to Human Health

Alaska Community Action on Toxics []

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT) has mapped contaminated sites in Alaska, including military and other federal sites; toxic sites identified by state government; and federal Superfund sites and radioactive waste sites.  When you choose to see “all” sites at the same time, Alaska looks like it has a really bad case of toxic measles, an industrially transmitted disease.

Environmental Health Coalition, Toxic Free Neighborhood Campaign Maps []

The Environmental Health Coalition’s Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign focuses primarily on the San Diego neighborhoods of Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, National City and nearby neighborhoods.  However, it is a model for what could be done elsewhere.  EHC has created a series of maps that show demographic data and toxic pollution in these communities.  Maps are used to display lead in housing, respiratory hazards, reproductive hazards, cancer risks, ethnicity, and income.

FactoryWatch []

Factory Watch, sponsored by Friends of the Earth, United Kingdom (UK), gives facts about industrial pollution in the UK, helping citizens fight for a cleaner, healthier environment, and helping us all advocate for more thorough and more up to date information on pollution from all sources.  By entering your postal code, you can easily:

See the official pollution figures for your local industry or factory; make local maps showing where, for example, cancer‑causing chemicals are released; get information on the health hazards of particular chemicals; and discover who controls pollution and how you can influence them.

Global Environmental Risk Map Network []

The Clary Meuser Research Network (CMRN) has performed environmental and demographic research, GIS [geographical information systems] analysis, and developed WebMap projects for non‑profit environmental organizations for the past four years. From this site you can examine maps that they developed for organizations and local governments in 39 different states and in several other countries.

Ironbound Community Corporation GIS Maps []

The Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) is a nonprofit community‑based organization rooted in the ethnically diverse Newark, N.J. neighborhood called Ironbound.  The organization’s GIS maps show individual hazards such as air and toxics street by street and also show these hazards with demographic information such as income and ethnicity.

Santa Cruz Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) []

The Santa Cruz TRI is an interactive map-based resource intended for use by citizens of this small California city.  It includes U.S. EPA TRI [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Toxics Release Inventory] releases and transfers from 1987 through 1997 (most recent data available from EPA). The Santa Cruz TRI also includes an extensive searchable right‑to‑know database and other resources for communicating information about toxics.

Toxic Hotshots []

Through the Silicon Valley Toxic Coalition’s (SVTC) Groundwater Contamination Mapping and Environmental Justice Project web site one can find: street level maps indicating groundwater contamination and superfund sites (including site reports), site‑level demographic comparisons, and county‑wide environmental justice maps shaded to indicate demographic variations.



Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy []

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's (IATP) mission is to create environmentally and economically sustainable rural communities and regions through sound agriculture and trade policy, including pest control policies.

Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides []

The Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) works to protect people and the environment by advancing healthy solutions to pest problems.   They publish a well‑respected quarterly Journal of Pesticide Reform, as well as numerous factsheets on pesticides and alternatives for pest control.

Pesticide Action Network North America []

Since 1982, PANNA (Pesticide Action Network North America) has campaigned to replace pesticides with ecologically sound alternatives. PANNA links over 100 affiliated health, consumer, labor, environment, progressive agriculture and public interest groups in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. with thousands of supporters worldwide to promote healthier, more effective pest management through research, policy development, education, media, demonstrations of alternatives and international advocacy campaigns.  PANNA’s web site offers numerous resources on pesticides and alternative means of pest control.

Pest Management at the Crossroads []

This site is maintained by Benbrook Consulting Services (BCS) as a public service to those who are working to advance the science and art of Integrated Pest Management. It includes information on environmental, food safety and pest management issues.


Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including Chlorine, Dioxin, and PCBs

Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ)  []

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) -– the organization founded by Lois Gibbs as a result of her experiences at Love Canal -- is conducting a national campaign to reduce exposure to dioxin and has published an excellent peer-reviewed report, American People’s Dioxin Report, available at this site.

Greenpeace Toxics Campaign []

This website is maintained by Greenpeace International, a global campaigning organization.  It has an abundance of information on POPs (persistant organic pollutants), including information on dioxin and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).  From this site, you can gain access to many of Greenpeace’s reports on these toxicants.

Health Care Without Harm []

Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is a collaborative campaign for environmentally responsible health care made up of more than 250 organizations. HCWH’s mission is to transform the health care industry so it is no longer a source of environmental harm by eliminating pollution in health care practices without compromising safety or care. The campaign looks at the production of dioxin from health care facilities that use disposable polyvinyl chloride products.  This site also includes information on mercury.

Indigenous Environmental Network []

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) offers the perspectives of indigenous peoples on environmental issues – perspectives that eurocentric cultures would find enlightening and beneficial, we believe.  Because POPs spontaneously move from warmer to colder regions, indigenous people of the far north are particularly endangered by POPs released by industrial nations in the mid-latitudes.  IEN has been representing indigenous perspectives at the international POPs negotiations.  The IEN web site offers information on POPs, pesticides and radioactive materials, among other environmental issues.

International POPs Elimination Network []

The International POPs Elimination Network is a global network of public interest non‑governmental organizations united in support of a common POPs Elimination Platform. The mission of IPEN, achieved through its participating organizations, is to work for the global elimination of persistent organic pollutants, on an expedited yet socially equitable basis.  This site has many links to information on POPs, including information on PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins.  IPEN’s POPs elimination platform is available in English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Russian.

Physicians for Social Responsibility []

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is working to create a world free of nuclear weapons, global environmental pollution, and gun violence. PSR says of itself, “The active conscience of American medicine, PSR uses its members' expertise and professional leadership, influence within the medical community and strong links to policy makers to address this century's greatest threats to human welfare and survival.”

World Wildlife Fund []

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is dedicated to protecting the world's wildlife and wildlands and recognizes that controlling pollution is important to conserving biodiversity. WWF’s efforts to increase scientific understanding of toxic chemicals and to restrict or ban harmful chemicals stem from evidence that some chemicals can undermine the basic functions of entire ecosystems, as well as harm wildlife and human health.  WWF has done some of the path‑breaking work on endocrine disrupting chemicals.


Waste Reduction, Pollution Prevention and Clean Production

Clean Production Action []

Clean Production Action (CPA) is an international non‑profit network dedicated to the advancement of sustainable production and consumption, taking the concepts and tools of Cleaner Production beyond the present process modification and emissions reduction focus. 

International Campaign for Responsible Technology

The Campaign for Responsible Technology (CRT), an international network initiated by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition [], is a diverse network of organizations and environmental, worker/labor safety and health, economic development and social justice activists who promote broader grassroots participation in the design and development of new technologies as the computer industry rapidly moves into an increasingly dominant position world-wide.  You can subscribe to the listserv of the Campaign for Responsible Technology at  A pamphlet on Clean Production strategy can be found at

Lowell Center for Sustainable Production []

The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production has done important work developing and promoting environmentally sound systems of production, healthy work environments, and economically viable work organizations.  This site provides skeletal information on their projects.

Toxics Use Reduction Institute []

The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) was created to help Massachusetts businesses reduce their use of toxic chemicals. To help achieve this goal, the Institute’s web site provides information about many aspects of less toxic technologies and chemistries.


Emerging Public Policies

International Joint Commission []

Although the International Joint Commission (IJC) is not a citizen’s group, the IJC pioneered many of the modern environmental policies that are replacing the old “prove harm” approach to environmental protection – and it did so in direct response to citizen concerns about toxicants in the Great Lakes ecosystem.  The IJC was created by the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty between the U.S. and Canada to oversee international matters related to the Great Lakes.  In 1978, the two nations signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, which the IJC oversees.  In 1992, in its Sixth Biennial Report, the IJC wrote, "Are humans and our environment in danger from persistent toxic substances now? Are future generations in danger? Based on a review of scientific studies and other recent information, we believe the answer to both questions is yes."

In its Sixth and Seventh Biennial Reports the IJC proposed and formally adopted several of the hazardous materials policies described earlier in this paper, making the IJC a source of wisdom for grass-roots environmental activists, world-wide. See the Sixth Biennial report (1992) at  and the Seventh Biennial report (1994) at

Science and Environmental Health Network []

The Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN) began in 1993 when members of the scientific community met to respond to virulent attacks on the environmental agenda. It was clear that science was being misrepresented and misused in environmental public policy. SEHN is interested in developing policies of prudence rather than policies of degrade-and-cleanup; evaluating the abuses of risk assessment and cost benefit analysis; and assessing strategies for responding to the misuse of science in public policy decision-making.  SEHN's website has information on the precautionary principle, genetically modified organisms, and public interest science.


Occupational Safety and Health

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) []

MassCosh is a coalition of approximately 50 unions together with over 100 health and legal professionals serving eastern and central Massachusetts. MassCOSH’s website has information on reproductive hazards on the job as well as indoor air quality problems in schools.

New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)  []

NYCOSH provides technical assistance, training and education about workplace health and safety hazards to workers, unions, community members and organizations. NYCOSH’s website provides news and information about on‑the‑job safety and health, plus hundreds of links to more information that can be used to enhance occupational safety.   One can find information on basic health and safety rights; workers’ compensation; strategies for safer workplaces; how to file a health and safety complaint; health and safety laws and regulations; and occupational hazards.

Southeast Michigan Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (SEMCOSH) []

SEMCOSH was founded in 1981. It is a coalition of individual workers, local unions, health and legal professionals united around the principle that work should not be dangerous to workers health. SEMCOSH’s website includes information on filing OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) complaints; ergonomics; the Michigan Right to Know law; and whistleblowing.


This list was compiled by Maria B. Pellerano (