Using Interactive Maps to Streamline Access to Pesticide Data

by Max Richardson, MPH, MCP, and Zev Ross, MS

Our article, published in a special issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, examines agricultural pesticide use in California and the multiple approaches the California Environmental Health Tracking Program has taken to increase the utility and accessibility of pesticide use data for public health practice. This includes a pesticide linkage service for highly skilled public health researchers, an online pesticide mapping tool that targets a broader range of stakeholders, and in-depth analysis and reporting on pesticide use data to provide information relevant to public policy. [Read the full article here.]

So how do you quickly communicate tens of millions of highly detailed pesticide use records to a broad range of stakeholders? Transforming the vast tabular dataset into our interactive web map at CEHTP has made our Pesticide Mapping Tool one of the most popular features on our website.

Map displaying the use of carcinogenic pesticides on salad greens in the Salinas Valley.

Several strategies make the data more accessible, relevant, and engaging to diverse audiences:
  • The technology used to store, query, and display millions of records culminates in a Google Maps interface, allowing users to intuitively click and explore the data.
  • Pesticides are categorized by their related health concern, in addition to compound name, to make the data more accessible and relevant to data consumers and policymakers.
  • Users can pan and zoom to view various geographies, and with a few clicks, display historical pesticide use in their community.
  • Detailed metadata and online tutorials help new users explore the tool.

Coming features include the ability to view the top pesticides used in a specific location and a Spanish language version, which will expand our reach to even more Californians.

A coming feature will allow users to rank order pesticides used in their community, and offer Spanish translations of the tool.

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Max Richardson

Max Richardson, MPH, MCP, is Senior Policy Manager at the California Environmental Health Tracking Program. He works with statisticians, health educators, and IT experts to enhance and disseminate environmental and health data that are accessible, local, and policy relevant.



Zev Ross

Zev Ross, MS, is CEO at ZevRoss Spatial Analysis. ZevRoss Spatial Analysis conducts data science and creates data-driven web applications for a wide range of clients, particularly those focused on public health.