November 2012I. Announcements, News, and blogs
I. Announcements, News, and Blogs
Hurricane Sandy Response and Recovery
Hurricane Sandy reached the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. on October 29, 2012. EPA is continuing to assist FEMA in the Hurricane Sandy Response to help ensure the protection of public health and the environment. We are providing technical assistance to the states of New Jersey and New York by assessing impacted drinking water and wastewater facilities, assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New York City officials on dewatering activities of transportation infrastructure, and evaluating requests for fuel waivers. We will continue to provide updates and information on this site as available.
EPA Awards $1.2 Million to Improve Indoor Air Quality
The U.S.EPA announced it will provide a combined $1.2 million in funding to 32 state and local governments, tribes, and non-profit organizations for indoor air quality projects. The funding will support recipients’ efforts to improve indoor air quality, which will better protect the health of Americans in classrooms, communities and homes across the country.
Education projects, training and outreach efforts supported by the funding will help reduce the environmental health risks of indoor air contaminants such as radon and asthma triggers. From organizing and training speakers on how to educate parents of children with asthma, to providing technical assistance that will help school districts develop indoor air quality management plans, these projects will help protect children and families. EPA emphasized selecting projects that assist low income and minority families that are disproportionately impacted by poor indoor air quality.
“EPA is proud to be working with our awardees across the nation to improve the air we breathe at school, work and home,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “American communities face serious health and environmental challenges from air pollution. This effort gives us an opportunity to improve indoor air quality by increasing awareness of environmental health risks.”
Indoor air pollutants in homes, buildings, and schools can negatively impact the health of occupants. Some pollutants cause health problems such as sore eyes, burning in the nose and throat, headaches or fatigue. Others can cause worsen allergies, respiratory illnesses (such as asthma) or even cancer (from radon gas). The projects will help improve indoor air quality and reduce the associated health risks by:
• Increasing effective indoor air quality practices through community level education and outreach
• Promoting positive indoor air quality management practices in schools by working with school districts and teachers
• Increasing the number of homes tested for radon, homes built with radon-resistant features, and existing homes mitigated for radon
• Creating awareness to reduce asthma triggers in the home and encourage the use of asthma management plans through community based asthma programs. More information about Indoor Air Assistance Agreements: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/regional_funding.html
II. Research Findings and Reports
Institute of Medicine--Reducing Tobacco-Related Cancer Incidence and Mortality - Workshop Summary
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, causing more than 440,000 deaths and resulting in $193 billion in health-related economic losses every year. In addition to causing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, tobacco use is linked to the development of 18 different types of cancer and accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Despite the widespread agreement on the dangers of tobacco use and considerable success in reducing the smoking rate by half since the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking in 1964, progress in reducing tobacco use has slowed in recent years. Today, nearly 19 percent of U.S. adults smoke, many of whom began smoking as adolescents or young adults. In addition, the use of new tobacco and nicotine products is on the rise, with unclear health consequences. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2012/Reducing-Tobacco-Related-Cancer-Incidence-and-Mortality.aspx
EPA Grantee’s Study on Vascular Responses to Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter Published
EPA grantee Ranjini Krishnan’s research featured in “Vascular Responses to Long- and Short-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter” in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology may explain an important pathway linking exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) and an increased risk of cardiovascular events. This research is a product of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Air Pollution Study that is funded by NCER. NIH funds the parent study MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis).
MESA is a very large population-based longitudinal study funded by NIH to define the factors that drive the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Much of what we know of atherosclerosis was learned from the Framingham Study. However, the population of Framingham was largely white and confined to a single location so it provided no information about racial, ethnic, cultural, or geographical factors. MESA was designed to rectify the design limitations of the Framingham Study. http://intranet.ord.epa.gov/news/2012/11/epa-grantee%E2%80%99s-study-vascular-responses-exposure-fine-particulate-matter-published
Anyone who has ever watched a toddler barreling around knows that trouble lurks around every corner. Young children crawl around on the floor, play in dirt, and put just about anything they can into their mouths, whether it's a cookie from the floor, a plastic toy, or a dust-covered curiosity grabbed from under the sofa. These types of behaviors put kids at risk of being exposed to something toxic.
By developing better science-based knowledge about how kids are exposed to harmful things in their environments, it's possible to reduce their risks and take action to better protect them. That's the goal of EPA's childhood exposure research.
EPA's work to understand childhood exposure began shortly after the Agency was established in 1970. The early studies focused primarily on how young people might encounter pesticides during their daily routines.
EPA's People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program will help fund researchers from Vanderbilt University develop a prototype that uses spinach to harness solar energy.
A research team at Vanderbilt University has developed a way to use spinach to harness solar energy. The team combined silicon with Photosystem 1, a protein involved in photosynthesis, to make a solar cell that is more efficient than other "biohybrid" solar cells. Through an award from EPA's People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) program, the team will develop a prototype and potentially take the innovative technology to the market.
III. Sustainable Communities
HUD Awards Nearly
$5Million to Spur Next Generation of Housing, Neighborhood Transformation
17 communities to execute grassroots efforts to revitalize housing, communities
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced that 17 communities across the U.S. will receive Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants. The $4.95 million awarded today provides these communities the resources they need to craft comprehensive, community-driven plans to revitalize public or other HUD-assisted housing and transform distressed neighborhoods. Read more about these local planning efforts.
“While many of these grantees have already collaborated to get to this stage, this funding enables them to take their initial discussions further to plan out strategies to build stronger, more sustainable communities that will address distressed housing, failing schools, rampant crime, and all that plagues the nation’s poor neighborhoods,” said Donovan. “HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative represents the next generation in a movement toward revitalizing entire neighborhoods to improve the lives of the residents who live there.”
HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. Building on the successes of HUD’s HOPE VI Program, Choice Neighborhoods links housing improvements with necessary services for the people who live there – including schools, public transit and employment opportunities.
The awardees announced today were selected from among 72 applications. Successful applicants demonstrated their intent to plan for the transformation of neighborhoods by revitalizing severely distressed public and/or assisted housing while leveraging investments to create high-quality public schools, outstanding education and early learning programs, public assets, public transportation, and improved access to jobs and well-functioning services. HUD focused on directing resources to address three core goals:
Losing Ground: The Struggle for Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation – A Report by the Center for Housing Policy
The combined costs of housing and transportation in the nation's largest 25 metro areas have swelled by 44 percent since 2000 while incomes have failed to keep pace, according to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy-the research affiliate of the National Housing Conference-and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The report, Losing Ground: The Struggle of Moderate-Income Households to Afford the Rising Costs of Housing and Transportation, details the challenges that American households face as the combined costs of housing and transportation consume an ever-larger share of household incomes. http://www.nhc.org/media/files/LosingGround_10_2012.pdf
EPA’s First Health Impact Assessment: Schools and Health EPA's Research Compass
The EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program announced the launch of EPA's first Health Impact Assessment (HIA), and the first school-focused HIA in this emerging field.
An HIA is a relatively new decision-making tool that asks how proposed decisions may impact health and well-being. HIAs consider potential consequences of decisions, include input from the people impacted by the decision, are flexible based on timelines and resources, consider different types of evidence, and provide timely recommendations to decision-makers.
The HIA for the Gerena Elementary School in Springfield, MA is a collaboration between EPA and stakeholders including the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection (DPH and DEP), city, school, and community groups.
The purpose of this HIA is to provide and help process information to help the City of Springfield narrow down the options for renovation and improvement at the Gerena School to those that will best address environmental problems and reduce potential negative health impacts, such as asthma exacerbations. The school is directly under a highway and adjacent to roadways and a railway, so the project will consider transportation-related indoor air exposures as well as those from flooding, moisture, mold and other indoor environment issues in the school. In addition, EPA will learn how its science can be used in the HIA process and incorporate HIA into its decision-support tools.
A number of resources exist to help public officials and others with climate change adaptation planning. The tools, guidebooks, clearinghouses and other resources highlighted on this page offer a sampling of what is available from states, federal agencies, nonprofit and private organizations, and others. Both the examples and links are intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive. Other tools and resources, as well as links to adaptation plans by different levels of government, can be found on the regional and sectoral adaptation pages. http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/adapt-tools.html
Initial Findings from a WHO Expert Consultation May 17-18 2012
More than two-thirds of the global population will be living in cities by 2050. The rapid rate of urban growth has created enormous challenges. Global growth in the number of slum-dwellers, now more than 800 million people, attests to the need for stronger urban governance. So while cities concentrate opportunities, jobs, and services, they also concentrate health hazards and risks. Health is an important benchmark of sustainability of urban policies. Health indicators proposed here also reflect progress n social equity, environment, and development dimensions of sustainable cities. Core indicators include:
Slum housing improvements that benefit health—as assessed by well-defined measures for safe, resilient, and climate-adapted structures that also have access to clean energy and basic utilities;
Urban air quality in terms of particulate pollution—with respect to WHO air quality guidelines;
Healthy, efficient transport – in terms of safety and use of sustainable modes, including walking, cycling, and public transport;
Urban violence—in terms of intentional homicides;
Governance indicators assess how cities account for health in urban planning and building codes, and in monitoring of air/water quality and sanitation risks. Indicators of access to urban services essential to public health and sustainable cities also are suggested for health care services, green spaces, fresh food markets, and waste management.
IV. Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
Dean A. Seehusen and John Edwards 10.3122/jabfm.19.6.542
J Am Board Fam Med November-December 2006 vol. 19 no. 6 542-547
Background: Clear guidance for how patients should dispose of unused and expired medications is lacking. Medications improperly disposed of can make their way into groundwater, surface water, and even drinking water. Incineration is the best disposal option currently available for waste medications. Although a few pharmacies will facilitate proper disposal of unused and expired medications, the majority will not.
Methods: A total of 301 patients at an outpatient pharmacy completed a survey about medication disposal practices and beliefs.
Results: More than half of the patients surveyed reported storing unused and expired medications in their homes, and more than half had flushed them down a toilet. Only 22.9% reported returning medication to a pharmacy for disposal. Less than 20% had ever been given advice about medication disposal by a health care provider. Previous counseling was highly associated with returning medications to a pharmacy (45.8% vs 17.1%, P < .001) and was the variable most associated with returning medications to a provider (28.8% vs 10.0%, P < .001). Previously counseled respondents were significantly more likely to believe that returning medications to a pharmacy (91.5% vs 60.3%, P < .001) or a medical provider (74.6% vs 47.3%, P < .001) was acceptable.
Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that there is a role for patient education about proper disposal of unused and expired medications.
Full article: http://www.jabfm.org/content/19/6/542.full.pdf+html
Comment on "Life Cycle Comparison of Environmental Emissions From Three Disposal Options For Used Pharmaceuticals" Christian G. Daughton, US EPA ORD, NERL, Las Vegas
The author comments on the lack of attention paid to public health and safety regarding disposal of unwanted medications in the article written by Cook et al. In addition he states in the interest of sustainability and stewardship to make progress on redesigning the complex system surrounding the practice of medication prescribing and dispensing—with the ultimate objective of minimizing the incidence of drug waste.
V. Environment and the Arts
Celebrating Silent Spring at 50
The Borderbend Arts Collective is working with other partnering organizations to present "Celebrating Silent Spring at 50." This includes creative responses to Silent Spring and celebrations of Rachel Carson's life and legacy -- with events, artistic expression (such as writings, music & visual art), and more. One of this program's goals is for people and organizations from each of the U.S.'s 50 states to contribute to "Celebrating Silent Spring at 50."
Here are some ideas to consider: What are some aspects of Rachel Carson's legacy that you find most important and fascinating? What is your favorite passage in Silent Spring? What are some important ideas Rachel Carson put forward in Silent Spring that you think still resonate with us today? What are some problems introduced in Silent Spring which still persist today?
Your submission could respond to one or more of those aforementioned questions. If your submission is accepted, it will appear on this website, on one of the "Media Galleries" pages. Please email email@example.com, with Silent Spring at 50 in the subject line, to receive the complete guidelines. Submissions will be accepted through December 15, 2012.
First-ever partnership between NEA and BEA will offer detailed, national data on the arts sector of the economy
"A creative economy is the fuel of magnificence," said Ralph Waldo Emerson in an 1857 essay. For the first time, the American creative sector will be measured on a macroeconomic level by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the federal agency of record on the U.S. economy and a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. In a groundbreaking partnership, the BEA and the National Endowment for the Arts will develop an "Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account" (ACPSA). This new account will identify and calculate the arts and culture sector's contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure representing the final dollar value of all goods and services produced in the United States. The ACPSA will collect detailed information on a select group of arts and cultural goods, services, and industries -- both commercial and not-for-profit -- that are currently reflected in the GDP. The NEA announced the news today at the public session of the National Council on the Arts.
"Before this, you could look at pieces of the puzzle, now you can see the whole puzzle," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "Our partnership with BEA gives the arts the same level of precise, national data on GDP as other sectors like manufacturing, construction, and services. I think economists and policymakers will take notice."
The BEA satellite account reflects the NEA's new research agenda, which has begun to look at 'impact analysis,' or how the arts affect various domains of human life, such as the economy, human development, science and technology, and education. Starting this year, the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account will identify and measure industries and commodities that involve creative or cultural engagement, or help bring creative and cultural goods and services to the public. For example, the satellite account will include national-level data on the number of people employed by museums, or theater production expenses, or revenues at architectural firms. Additionally, the account can report figures on worker compensation in the music industry, or the value added by the book publishing industry to the U.S. economy. The arts satellite account will tap into data to which only certain agencies have routine access, and it uses the same methodology as existing BEA satellite accounts on travel and tourism, research and development, and health care.
This new satellite account will offer far more detail, and far more precision on the arts sector. Previously, the BEA reported estimates for select arts domains (such as the performing arts) every five years with the benchmark Input-Output Table, and the estimates were very broad, sometimes combined with other sectors such as sports and recreation. The ACPSA will delve into specific industry details; in the performing arts category for example, it will parse data on dance, theater, and music. The ACPSA will also include estimates of "direct" employment, such as employment at publishing firms or art dealerships, as well as "indirect" employment, which refers to employment in industries that produce goods and services for the arts and cultural industries.
In 2013, both BEA and NEA will release preliminary estimates on relevant creative and cultural industries, including estimates on annual outputs (such as revenue and expenses), direct and indirect employment, compensation, and "value-added," which refers to an industry's contribution to the economy through its labor and capital, excluding material and energy costs. In 2014, BEA will release final estimates, and publish the findings in The Survey of Current Business, a key publication for leaders in economics and policy.
The NEA’s new commitment to impact analysis can also be seen in the NEA's Task Force on the Arts and Human Development, which brings together 14 federal agencies and departments to identify gaps and opportunities in arts research across the lifespan, from childhood to old age. The NEA recently unveiled its five-year research plan and the "How Art Works" system map, a conceptual framework to help understand and measure the complex arts ecosystem. Beyond the research and policy discussions, the NEA has also launched a new research grant category to support research projects on the value and impact of the arts in the United States. Woven throughout these efforts is a commitment to public dialogue on NEA arts research, facilitated through conferences, public webinars, and webcasts, available on the Research Convenings page of arts.gov.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov.
VI. Intergenerational Activities
The U.S. EPA, Rachel Carson Council, Inc, Generations United, Dance Exchange and the National Center for Creative Aging are the proud sponsors of the 2012 Rachel Carson Sense of Water Contest. Each year finalists are selected by an intergenerational and diverse group of judges. Judges used the following criteria to select the finalists: 1) how the intergenerational team went about planning and carrying out the project and what made it special because the project involved persons from different generations: and 2) how the creative project brought the team in touch with the natural world.
The Poem selected for first place in the 2012 contest is Peaceful Water, Crashing Water. This intergernerational poem was written by a boy of 10 years of age, Hari, and his grandmother Sujatha. Below see their description of the joint work on their poem and the celebration of Rachel Carson.
Intergenerational Description of Joint Project:
Since we live on different continents, Hari and I collaborated on this project through phone conversations, video conferencing, and email. First, we discussed the setting since we have both enjoyed nature together on several occasions. Hari then emailed me three stanzas of a poem, with rhyming lines. I interspersed my lines without rhyme, but as an echo of his sentiments and imagery. It was thrilling to explore a shared experience through poetry with my grandson.
Celebration of Rachel Carson's Sense of Wonder Description:
When Hari visited India in December 2011, my family including my children, grandchildren, and I visited the rock temples at the Heritage site of Mamallapuram on the seashore. It was an overcast morning, and we suddenly received warning of an approaching hurricane. There was a heavy downpour and the stormy ocean waves crashed on the millennium-old rock monuments around us, creating a magical setting that neither my grandson nor I will ever forget.
VII. Funding Opportunities and Resources
EPA Funding Opportunities
FY13 Guidelines for Brownfields Assessment Grants
Deadline: November 19, 2012.
EPA is soliciting proposals pursuant to Section 319 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) from eligible tribes and intertribal consortia to develop and/or implement watershed-based plans and on-the-ground projects that will result in significant steps towards solving Nonpoint Source (NPS) impairments on a watershed-wide basis. Eligible entities are strongly encouraged to submit proposals that develop and/or implement watershed-based plans designed to protect unimpaired waters and restore NPS-impaired waters.
Deadline: December 14, 2012.
Environmental Education Regional Grants -- Solicitation Notice for 2012
Extended Deadline: December 12, 2012.
EPA as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program is seeking applications to establish Centers to conduct water research and demonstration projects that are innovative and sustainable using a systems approach for nutrient management in the Nation’s waters.
Proposed research areas should include:
• Science to achieve sustainable and cost effective health and environmental outcomes as part of water management.
• Demonstration projects to support efficacy of water management systems with and beyond current technology and information at appropriate scales.
• Community involvement in the design, acceptance and implementation of nutrient management systems.
Deadline: January 15, 2013.
In FY 2012, NSF funded six Phase II Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP-II) projects. The PI's, Co-PI's and significant partners of the six CCEP-II projects constitute the CCEP "network". The lead PI's for the six projects comprise the CCEP Alliance (CCEPA), which will convene on a regular basis in order to identify common needs and opportunities for collaboration across the CCEP network. Key to the success of this networked approach is the creation of a CCEP Alliance Office (CCEPA Office), which will: facilitate communication among the projects participating within the CCEP-II network; enable and nurture cross-project coordination and collaboration, such as assisting with data collection for a program-wide evaluation undertaken by NSF; and, support dissemination of resources developed by the CCEP-II network to the larger scientific community and the public. The CCEPA Office is also expected to foster coordination of CCEP-II activities with the larger climate change education community.
Letter of Intent Due Date(s) (required) December 06, 2012 Letter of Intent (Required)
Full Proposal Deadline(s): February 05, 2013.
B-WET Chesapeake is a competitive grant program that supports existing, high quality environmental education programs, fosters the growth of new, innovative programs, and encourages capacity building and partnership development for environmental education programs throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. Successful projects advance the goals of the NOAA Education Strategic Plan and the Mid Atlantic Elementary and Secondary Environmental Literacy Strategy by providing hands-on environmental education about issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed for students, related professional development for teachers, and/or capacity building for watershed education. These Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) integrate field experiences with classroom activities and instruction in NOAA-related content.
Letters of Intent due 10/30/2012. Applications are due: 12/19/2012.
Deadline: November 26, 2012.
Deadline: December 18, 2012.
Deadline: November 8, 2012- December 8, 2015.
Organizations may apply for creative placemaking projects that contribute to the livability of communities and place the arts at their core. An organization may request a grant amount from $25,000 to $200,000.
Grant Program Description
Art works to improve the lives of America's citizens in many ways. Communities across our nation are leveraging the arts and engaging design to make their communities more livable with enhanced quality of life, increased creative activity, a distinct sense of place, and vibrant local economies that together capitalize on their existing assets. The NEA defines these efforts as the process of Creative Placemaking:
"In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, nonprofit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired."
Ann Markusen, Markusen Economic Research Services
Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Metris Arts Consulting
From Creative Placemaking
Through Our Town, subject to the availability of funding, the National Endowment for the Arts will provide a limited number of grants, ranging from $25,000 to $200,000, for creative placemaking projects that contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. Our Town will invest in creative and innovative projects in which communities, together with their arts and design organizations and artists, seek to:
· Improve their quality of life.
· Encourage greater creative activity.
· Foster stronger community identity and a sense of place.
· Revitalize economic development.
Through Our Town projects, the NEA intends to achieve the following
outcome: Livability: American communities are strengthened through
the arts. See "Intended NEA Outcome" for more details.
Guidance to prepare and application: http://www.arts.gov/grants/apply/OurTown/How-to-apply.html
Deadline: January 14, 2013.
NIEHS -- Environmental Influences on
the Microbiome (R21)
Deadline: January 16, 2013.
Improving Diet and Physical activity
Deadline: February 5, 2013.
Juvenile Protective Factors and Their
Effects on Aging (R01)
Deadline: February 5, 2013. June 5, 2013.
Secondary Analyses and Archiving of
Social and Behavioral Datasets in Aging (R03)
Deadline: February 14, 2013.
VIII. 2012 Calendar, Call for Abstracts, 2013 Calendar
Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting
November 14-18, 2012.
San Diego, California
World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day:
November 16, 2012
International Council on Active Aging Annual
November 29-December 1, 2012.
New Orleans, LA
December 3, 2012.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
New Partners for Smart Growth Annual Conference
February 7-9, 2013.
Kansas City, MO
The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 15-18, 2013
Active Living Research Annual Conference
February 26-28, 2013.
San Diego, CA
Association of Gerontology in Higher Education
February 28 - March 3, 2013.
St. Petersburg, FL
Call for Abstracts
Generations United 17th Intergenerational Conference
Generations United has issued a Call for Proposals for its 17th Intergenerational Conference, which will take place in Washington, DC next July. Share your innovative ideas and secrets for success with your colleagues.
Deadline to submit: Dec. 1, 2012. Learn more at http://www.gu.org/RESOURCES/Conference.aspx