Google shares Street View pollution maps

The data shows how pollution can vary greatly between adjacent city blocks.

Google has released its first detailed pollution maps, revealing wide disparities in air quality between adjacent city blocks.

To gather and analyze the data, the search giant teamed with the Environmental Defense Fund and outfitted some of its Street View vehicles with Aclima's pollution measurement hardware to gauge nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and black carbon.

EDF's map of Oakland, California shows relatively low levels of black carbon on side streets but sustained higher pollution levels where the Bay Bridge meets I-80 due to vehicles speeding up to cross under I-80 and merge onto the bridge.

"These insights can help community groups like the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project get a better understanding of local air quality and assist regulators like the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in identifying opportunities to achieve greater air quality improvements," Google says.

The Aclima collaboration will focus on Los Angeles, San Francisco and Central Valley communities. Google in 2014 teamed with EDF for a separate project that aims to map methane leaks around the country.

"With nearly 3 million measurements and 14,000 miles captured in the course of a year, this is one of the largest air quality datasets ever published, and demonstrates the potential of neighborhood-level air quality mapping," the company adds.

It is unclear if the initiative will be expanded to cover the entire country.

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