TRU Launches Pollution Reporter App

October 25, 2019 by Department of History Staff

On October 19th, as part of the Canada’s Chemical Valley Toxic Tour, the Technoscience Research Unit launched an app that begins to address some of the the pollution data gaps in Chemical Valley, where there is an urgent need to connect pollution data to negative health effects. The inadequate pollution prevention, monitoring, and data provided by the government and corporations in this area presents serious and ongoing concerns for Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

TRU's Pollution Reporter App addresses this serious gap in data collection. It offers an easy and accessible way for community members and the public to easily make reports about pollution, or search for information by symptom, health harm, or chemical. The app is focused on the Imperial Oil Refinery in Sarnia, one of the oldest refineries in the world and the biggest polluter in Ontario’s Chemical Valley, which is located on Anishinaabe land and surrounds Aamjiwnaang First Nation from all directions.

Pollution Reporter can be used in two ways: first, users can report pollution incidents, spills, leaks, and flares to Ontario’s Ministry of Environment using their email. Currently, community members report incidents to the Ontario’s Spills Action Centre by telephone. The app makes reporting simpler and more accessible, and users will have a copy of their reports to share. Second, users can connect pollution emissions data with research about known health harms. The app works by linking publicly-available data on refinery emissions from the federal government’s National Pollutant Release Inventory to known health harms based on peer-reviewed medical literature. Pollution Reporter also provides an analysis of how existing data sources fail to hold polluters responsible. While this first version of the app focuses on one refinery, future versions will include all facilities in Chemical Valley.

Pollution Reporter is a part of the Indigenous-led project, The Land and the Refinery: Past, Present, Future. The project is led Professor Michelle Murphy, Aamjiwnaang environmental researcher Vanessa Gray, Lab Manager Kristen Bos, environmental justice researcher Reena Shadaan, and digital justice researcher Ladan Siad. 

The app is currently available for download on the Apple and Google Play Stores.