No matter where you live, you should be prepared for what nature might throw at you. There’s the threat of natural disasters, especially if you’re in an area prone to wildfires or floods. There are also industrial dangers like Superfund sites, which are heavily contaminated, or natural gas pipelines, which can leak pollutants. Put your address or zip code into the AreaHub website and you can see not only which of these environmental and climate hazards are prevalent in your area but also how they could affect your safety, health, or property, and what mitigation options you may have.
Alison Gregory, who previously worked in financial services, cofounded the site after she tried to research the threats in her New York area. “I spent a lot of hours trying to research and get some answers across many different governmental sites,” she says. When she did find information, it was often “really scientifically presented,” and could be difficult to decipher. She set out to develop a way to allow people to get this type of information “in a clear, comprehensible, easy-to-use, one-stop aggregate platform.”
When you put your address, zip code, or city name into AreaHub, you’ll get an overview of your local risks by category. Industrial hazards include brownfields (abandoned or unused properties that may be contaminated); nuclear reactors; oil, gas, and fracking wells; natural gas pipelines; and Superfund sites that are within 5 miles. The natural hazards section shows how many extreme weather events like hurricanes, severe floods, or tornadoes have occurred there in recent years. There’s also information on infrastructure like cell towers or high-voltage power lines, and an overview of the pollution and air-quality details for your region.
The site also lets you dive deeper into certain risks. A wildfire page shows the number of active fires, how many wildfires there have been year to date, and how many personnel are currently assigned to fires, based on incident information as reported by responding teams. For every hazard, there are details on what the health risks might be, and what you can actually do: tips to flood-proof your home, what insurance you may be able to get, information on how to track the Air Quality Index, and how there are home tests to check your drinking water for contaminants.
“If we’re providing information that people have a Superfund near them or a nuclear reactor or whatever it may be, we thought this could actually induce a lot of stress, and people need to be able to put it in context,” Gregory says. “Which is why in parallel to a database we built up an extensive knowledge center . . . because we want people to have the information to understand the level of need and the impacts.”
AreaHub reports are free and don’t require any registration (though Gregory says that subscription services for even deeper reports will be rolled out in the future). “We believe in environmental transparency,” she says. “As a parent, or a person considering moving to an area, or a person considering purchasing in an area, you want to learn about your area. And the question is, how holistic and rich can that picture be? We’re trying to help provide more information than others may have been able to access previously.”