Meta Information System for Environmental Chemicals: Set-up and Analysis of its Contents
Kristina Voigt (National Research Center for Environment and Health, Germany), Gerhard Welzl (National Research Center for Environment and Health, Germany) and Joachim Benz (University of Kassel, Germany)
Copyright: © 2001
Chemistry and the environmental sciences are scientific disciplines with an enormous output of and demand for data. As of June 8th, 2000, 16,813,792 organic and inorganic substances have been registered in the Registry File of Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS, 2000). Since there is no indication that the increase in information in these fields will slow down within the foreseeable future, we shall have to cope with a growing flood of chemical and environmental information. A scientific approach is urgently needed to deal with this information abundance (Luckenbach, 1996). The enormous increase in chemical and environmental information implies a rise in on-line databases, CD-ROMs and Internet resources in these fields. With the estimated number of 304 million Internet users worldwide in March 2000 (NUA, 2000), many people have the tools to use these datasources. In contrast to that citizens of the European Union do not feel well informed about environmental affairs – despite the fact that environmental problems are an issue they are concerned about (Europäische Umweltagentur, 1999). This is a problem of availability and accessibility. The Internet and the World Wide Web offer a suitable platform for the dissemination of information, but in contrast to other information sources the Internet is still too unstructured, and searches lead to unpredictable, sometimes unusable results (Streuff, 2000).