Uncovering ‘Ghost Factories’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

USA Today has a terrific package today about neighborhoods across the country that could have dangerous levels of lead contamination from old factories:

Despite warnings, federal and state officials repeatedly failed to find out just how bad the problems were. A 14-month USA TODAY investigation has found that the EPA and state regulators left thousands of families and children in harm’s way, doing little to assess the danger around many of the more than 400 potential lead smelter locations on a list compiled by a researcher from old industry directories and given to the EPA in 2001.

Included is an interactive map with information about these locations:

Via Tony Debarros

Mapping Drought Conditions

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Weather

USA Today reports that the country hasn’t been this “dry” in five years: 

Still reeling from devastating drought that led to at least $10 billion in agricultural losses across Texas and the South in 2011, the nation is enduring more unusually parched weather.

The map uses the same data we at NPR used recently to map conditions in Texas, which endured the worst drought in its history last year. The map shows the full country, for context, and allows users to see an animated view week-by-week from summer 2010 to last month. Check it out

‘Sprawl On The Skids’

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

Nice before/after map and story from USA Today about how suburban growth has slowed: 

Five years ago, millions of Americans were streaming to new homes on the fringes of metropolitan areas. Then housing prices collapsed and the Great Recession slowed growth to levels not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Growth remained slow last year, and largely confined to counties at the center of metropolitan areas. Maps show population gain or loss in 2006 and 2011, based on new Census Bureau estimates.

Anyone have thoughts about the colors? Though muted, they could remind readers of politics maps.