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Land Risk Management Research

Science to Protect Our Land and Communities

Oil Spills through Watershed Protection.

Why Is Land Risk Management Research Important?

Land Risk Management Research provides linkages between the natural and the built environment, and supports place-based research programs. It integrates land use, and waste and materials management to sustain ecosystem services. Land research improves land protection and vitalization. Land research covers a broad range of issues associated with the management of contaminated sites and land-based sources of pollution.

Oil Spills: EPA land researchers have done research without which we would be hampered in controlling the effects of oil spills. EPA oil spill research includes decades-long monitoring of the fate and effects of oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez, as well as technical support in the Gulf Oil Spill emergency. It includes studies that determine which dispersants work best on oil spills, and timely studies that look at how different dispersants work at the temperatures found at ocean depths.

Materials Management: For decades, land researchers have led the way in helping the country and the world deal with materials and waste management issues. Materials use now challenges the capacity of the land, as well as air and water, to withstand the many resulting environmental problems. Materials use also affects many other aspects of our future, such as the economy, energy, and climate.

Sustainable Communities: Many communities around the country are asking for help to achieve their desired development goals, improve the quality of life for their residents, and make their communities more economically and environmentally sustainable.

Contaminated Soil and Sediment: Nearly 40 percent of rivers and streams in the United States are too polluted for fishing and swimming due to chemical and microbial contaminants. EPA land researchers are working with regions and communities on soil and sediment contamination issues, using innovative sediment remediation techniques (such as dredging, capping, and monitored natural recovery technologies and research) to make these waterways usable again.

Watershed Protection: Land and water are interconnected. Pollutants in aquatic ecosystems are often a result of adjacent land use. Thus, EPA land research involves both land and water ecosystems. There is a strong focus of land research on sustaining the functionality and integrity of ecosystems. This helps to protect and restore ecosystem services needed for sustainable communities. Green infrastructure techniques show great promise as a sustainable way to protect watersheds and protect ecosystem services.

How Does EPA Conduct Land Risk Management Research?

Land risk management research focuses on developing the science and technology needed to restore and revitalize land contaminated by hazardous waste. Our research is aligned with EPA priorities of cleaning up our communities and ensuring the safety of chemicals. From laboratory research through field evaluation, land risk management research combines in-house work, extramural activities, and partnerships with federal and state agencies.

What Is the Impact of Land Risk Management Research?

EPA land researchers are leading a number of research studies that help regions and communities to preserve and restore land and water resources through innovative cleanup technologies and wise land-use choices.

  • As a result of oil spill research, commercial dispersants will be listed for use in response actions. By doing so, the response actions will have a greater likelihood of being effective in dispersing oil to increase its rate of degradation and limits its effects to ecosystems.
  • Through the efforts of EPA and its partners, the United States has seen reductions in the amount of waste being released into the environment. For example, recycling of trash grew from less than 10 percent in 1980 to 34 percent in 20091.
  • The PLACES (Planning Land and Communities to be Environmentally Sustainable) program is helping communities onto a path of sustainability, protecting their ecosystems services and human health, while keeping them economically viable.
  • Land researchers are leading projects to help communities across the United States to better use green infrastructure land-use techniques, such as rain gardens, cisterns, and riparian zone restoration. With these techniques, communities can preserve water resources and lower their utility bills.

1 US EPA. (2010) "Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2009." (PDF) (12 pp, 1.19 MB) Publication No. EPA/530/F-10/012.


Roger Yeardley, Technology Transfer Specialist
U.S. EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory
Land Remediation and Pollution Control Division
26 W. Martin Luther King Dr.
Mail Code: 190
Cincinnati, OH 45268

Risk Mangement Research | Air and Climate Change Research | Water Research | Ecosystems Restoration Research | Land Risk Management Research | Technology: Sustainable Technologies Research, Environmental Technology Verification Program (ETV), and Technology Assessments

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