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Angelo Logan: Where to find reliable data

Finding accurate and credible information on issues important to you and your community can be a difficult task. In this brief interview, Angelo Logan, co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, provides useful tips on how to begin your search for credible “evidence-based” data using air quality as an example.

Some other tips:

Logan mentions useful websites such as AQMD’s MATES III Carcinogenic Risk Interactive Map. The online tool allows you to enter your address and see the areas that have the heaviest concentrations of polluted air.  He also mentions Sick of Soot, a useful report on particulate matter published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.  And still more resources are listed below.

Generally speaking, the Web is a great way to learn more about air quality and other health issues. But buyer beware: Always consider the following when searching for reliable health data online:

  • Trust the source: Look for websites written by a person, institution, or organization that you trust.  Government agencies, reputable academic institutions and scientific journals are good places to start.
  • Look for “evidence-based” research:  Opinions and advice are different from information that is “evidence-based” (that is, based on research, data, surveys and other science-based evidence). Testimonials from people who said they have tried a particular product or service are not evidence-based.
  • Consider the source: Look for how a website documents its research. Health-related websites should give information about the people who prepared or reviewed the material.  If the author has any conflicts of interest (such as a financial relationship with the product or issue reviewed) they should acknowledge it openly.  This is called “full disclosure” and is essential to credibility.  Sources of data should describe how the data was collected. For example the California Health Interview Survey has several links to help users better understand the data including the methodology used, the questions asked and the size of the sample (i.e. the number of people surveyed).

Learn more:
Evaluating Internet Resources: Criteria and Tools
Finding Reliable Health Information Online (National Human Genome Research Institute)

Articles on air quality issues:
Article: Data (and expertise) = credible advocacy
Angelo Logan: Harnessing a Community’s Anger
Sick of Soot: Solutions for California’s Diesel Pollution (Union of Concerned Scientists)
Trade, Health & Environment Impact Project

Related Links:
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
ALERT Project (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research)


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