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EPA's Report on the Environment: External Review Draft



Detailed Guide

How to Use EPA's ROE Website

Explore the Website

The ROE is organized as follows:

  • The ROE addresses 24 questions that are critical to EPA's mission of protecting the environment and human health.
  • These questions are organized into six theme areas: air, water, land, human exposure and health, ecological condition, and sustainability.
  • To help answer these questions, the ROE presents the best available indicators of national trends in the environment and human health. Each indicator addresses one or more of the ROE questions.

No matter where you are in the ROE website, you can always navigate to any theme area, question page, or indicator using the multi-colored banner at the top of the page (see example below).

  • Select a theme area (e.g., “Human Exposure and Health”) to go to a landing page that provides an overview of the area and how it’s addressed in the ROE.
  • Hover over a theme area to see the question topics for that area. The example below shows the three topics under “Human Exposure and Health.” Note that the ROE questions are abbreviated as topics in the navigation banner.
  • Select a question topic (e.g., “Health Status”) to go to landing page that provides the full question and an overview of why this question matters to EPA and what ROE indicators help address the question.
  • Hover over a question topic to see a list of the ROE indicators that address this question. Then select an indicator from this list.

Illustration of the banner menu that appears at the top of every indicator page within this website. Features are labeled to correspond with the text above.

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Explore an Indicator

Each indicator contains a variety of interactive features. Use the numbered guide below to learn more.

Illustration of a typical interactive graph within this website. Features are labeled to correspond with the numbered descriptions below.

  1. Indicator name. Some indicators have two forms of their name: a full name (shown here) and a shorter form that may be used in lists and cross-references. For example, the indicator “Population Served by Community Water Systems with No Reported Violations of Health-Based Standards” is referred to elsewhere as the “Drinking Water” indicator.
  2. Select an exhibit to view. Each indicator can have one or more exhibits (graphs, tables, or maps). You can view one exhibit at a time by selecting the corresponding thumbnail from the left side of the screen. The selected thumbnail will be surrounded by a blue box.
  3. Turn layers on or off. In graphs with multiple data series (e.g., multiple lines), you can choose which series you wish to display. This can be useful if you want to focus on a particular category or a particular region, for example. If appropriate, the graph may resize itself to show the selected series at a more useful scale. You can toggle individual data series on or off using the clickable legend. In the example above, you can click the words “Trend based on tide gauges” and/or “Satellite measurements” to remove those data from the display. Click again to turn those layers back on. When a series is turned off, its name will appear gray in the legend, rather than black.
  4. See individual data points. Hover your mouse over a bar segment, any point along a line, or the top of a shaded area segment to reveal a tooltip with data.
  5. Help button. This button opens a popup with instructions on how to use the ROE website, including interactive indicator features.
  6. PDF/print button. This button generates a PDF of the complete indicator, including all exhibits and all text (but not including the separate technical documentation). Each exhibit will appear in its default state—i.e., with all data series turned on. Depending on your browser, you may be prompted to open or save this PDF. The best way to print a complete indicator is by generating a PDF, then printing the PDF. This method is more reliable than selecting File -> Print within your browser.
  7. Download button. This button will export the exhibit that is currently onscreen as a PNG (bitmap image) file. You may wish to use this tool to get a version of the graphic that you can paste into a document, presentation, social media application, or other location. The exhibit will appear in its current state—i.e., showing only the data series that are currently turned on. Depending on your browser, you may be prompted to open or save this file.
  8. Data button. This button provides the data for the current exhibit in a downloadable tab-delimited file. You can open this file with a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. Depending on your browser, you may be prompted to open or save this file.
  9. Statistical information button. Certain exhibits have error bars, confidence bands, or trend lines that can be added to the display to provide statistical context. These features are turned off by default, but can be turned on by selecting this button.
  10. Locator map button. This button appears next to selected exhibits that disaggregate data by geographic region. It opens a popup containing a map that shows the relevant regional boundaries.
  11. Trend statement. A footnote beneath every ROE exhibit explains what is known about any trends in the data over time, if applicable.
  12. Indicator text. Each indicator has four sections of text: Introduction (background), What the Data Show (key points), Limitations, and Data Sources. Select a heading to expand the page and read the text.
  13. Technical documentation. Each indicator has a corresponding technical document that provides more details about data sources, methods of collecting and analyzing data, and statistical attributes. Selecting this link will open the technical documentation in a popup window.
  14. References. This link opens a popup window with full citations for the references that are cited within the indicator text.
  15. For more information. This box provides links to other EPA or non-EPA websites where you can find more information about the indicator data or the topic in general. This box also lists the ROE questions that the indicator addresses. Additionally, some indicators link to a series of diagrams that show how ROE indicators relate to selected issues of environmental concern.

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Special Tools for Interactive Maps

A few ROE indicators include interactive maps. Use the numbered guide below to learn about special features of these maps.

Illustration of a typical interactive map within this website. Features are labeled to correspond with the numbered descriptions below.

  1. Zooming and panning tools. Use the “plus” and “minus” buttons to zoom in or out, and use the arrows to move around on the map.
  2. Popups with data. Some maps present data for specific points (e.g., sampling stations) or regions (e.g., watersheds). If applicable, you can click one of these points or regions to open a popup with data.
  3. Full screen view. Select the button in the upper right corner of the map to open a larger version.
  4. Turn layers on or off. The “+” button along the right edge of the map will open a list of layers that can be activated or deactivated. Data layers are activated by default. You can choose whether you want the basemap to be a satellite image or a plain gray background.
  5. Opacity control. Use the slider near the bottom of the screen to change the opacity (transparency) of the main data layer. For example, if the main data layer has colored areas or grid cells, you might wish to make this layer more transparent so you can see features of the basemap beneath.
  6. Legend control. Open the legend to view its contents. Close the legend to leave more space for viewing the map.

Note that a few of the interactive buttons that work for graphs and tables might not apply to maps. For example, some complex raster (grid) maps do not offer the ability to download data in spreadsheet format, in which case the “data” button will not appear.

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Statistical Information

The ROE displays confidence intervals (in the form of error bars or bands) and trend lines as optional overlays to indicator graphics when such data are readily available and straightforward to add to the graph. Additional details about uncertainty, variability, and statistical analysis (for example, analysis of trends over time) can be found in the technical documentation for each indicator. A footnote beneath every ROE exhibit explains what is known about any trends in the data over time, if applicable.

The presence of the statistical information button to the right of a graph signals the availability of confidence intervals or trend lines that can be added to the display. Click on this button to view the available statistical information.

  • Confidence intervals: For ROE indicators, confidence intervals are displayed visually in the form of error bars on a bar graph or a shaded band on a line graph.
  • Trend Lines. The ROE considers trends to be statistically significant if they reach a level of confidence that is generally viewed as appropriate for the topic at hand. In most cases, the threshold is 95 percent confidence. Where feasible, trend lines may be displayed in ROE exhibits for trends that are statistically significant. To see the slope of the trend, view the legend or the tooltip that appears when hovering over the line. The technical documentation describes how each trend was calculated and provides the p-value, which indicates the level of significance. In a few cases, the technical documentation may explain that a trend was calculated but determined to be insignificant, in which case no trend line is shown on the graph.

See Frequent Questions for more information about confidence intervals and trends lines in the ROE.

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