Chemical Environmental Specific Databases

Chemical Environmental Specific Databases and Searching Information Related to the Air, Water, and our Environment

ImageThe theme of the 242nd National Meeting was the Chemistry of Air, Space & Water. This CINF Sunday morning session in Denver kicked off the theme for the Division of Chemical Information with an introduction to a few of the many available database resources for information on environmental aspects of chemicals in terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric environments. 

Speakers addressed the challenges of creating databases for focused areas of research as well as those encountered in developing unified national repositories of information about manmade chemicals in the environment. Most of the featured resources are available on the web, but future developments may make more information available on smartphones and other mobile technology. Speakers included scientists from government agencies (USGS and USDA), academic librarians, and a representative from CAS. During the course of the morning, speakers provided links to a number of web resources that will be of interest to many readers. A summary of some of these resources, along with the presentation title and author are given here:

Can a compact means of representing the ionic equilibria of multi-acid/base aqueous solute molecules be devised?

R. Don Wauchope , US Department of Agriculture (retired)

Wauchope presented on the development of USDA Pesticide Properties Databases (ARS, NRCS and FOOTPRINT databases) and the SPARC chemical property calculator and its application in predicting ionization of pesticides in the environment.

ARChem's physicochemical calculator, SPARC

USGS National Geochemical Database: Recovering, repackaging, and repurposing 50+ years of historical data

Steven M. Smith, David B. Smith, US Geological Survey

Focusing on elements and compounds primarily of economic interest, but also on those playing a role in environmental health, Smith spoke about the historical and current development of theNational Geochemical Database.

National Geochemical Database Project

Mineral Resources Data Download Site

Quality of water resources from the U.S. Geological Syrvey: An introduction

Shu Guo, Central Michigan University

Guo presented on an array of resources from the USGS related to groundwater, surface waters, water quality measurements, and marine waters.  

USGS Water Resources – links to various water data collected by USGS

National Water Information System (NWIS) – water quality data

WaterQualityWatch – real-time water quality of surface waters

National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program

SPARROW Surface Water-Quality Modeling

Public access to toxic release data: Exploring TRI and

Barbara Losoff, University of Colorado Boulder

Using styrene releases and concerns about exposure as a case study, Losoff compared two interfaces to the Toxic Release Inventory data – the TRI Explorer from EPA and the RTK website.

“What is the Toxics Release Inventory Program?”

EPA TRI Explorer interface

Right-to-know Network

CHEMLIST: Chronicling the course of regulated chemistry

Roger J. Schenck, CAS

Schenck presented an overview of international chemical regulatory efforts and of the coverage of the CHEMLIST database.


Finally, I’d like to draw attention to the growing number of information resources for environmentally important chemicals that are available as mobile apps for smartphones and other devices. There are also a couple of interesting news items that highlight use of mobile detection technology coupled with smartphones to help first responders at fire and chemical spill sites.

CAMEO – EPA Emergency management tool

WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) – National Library of Medicine

HazMat Reference and Emergency Response Guide

Cell-All: Super Smartphones Sniff Out Suspicious Substances

Intel Fireball Lets You know if its Safe to Enter a Burning Building


Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Symposium Organizer

Two recorded presentations (by Don Wauchope and Barbara Losoff) from this symposium are available at the ACS Learning Center (