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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

Sustainable and Healthy Communities

EPA’s Sustainable and Healthy Communities research program works to help communities meet their current needs in ways that protect the environment and enhance human health over the long term, so that future generations can meet their needs too.

Working closely with community stakeholders and other decision makers to identify the information, science and technologies they require, EPA scientists use a holistic approach to advance research that reflects the three pillars of sustainability: economy, society, and the environment. The work provides decision-support tools and information that communities need to develop proactive, strategic solutions for a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future.

Research Highlights

This section highlights a few of the research results EPA researchers and their partners have achieved in 2012 to support sustainable and healthy communities.

Studying the Connections between Wildfire Smoke and Community Health

Results from a new EPA study will help state agencies and the EPA Office of Air and Radiation identify and assist vulnerable communities and individuals who are highly susceptible to air pollutants—especially those released by wildfires.


Protecting People from Arsenic and Lead in Soil

Toxics and human digestion may sound like a daunting pair, but EPA researchers have found a way to create a computer model of the digestive system and the way it absorbs arsenic to create a powerful science tool.


Developing the "EnviroAtlas" to Support Community Decisions

In 2012, EPA scientists finalized an Atlas of non-native marine and estuarine species for the North Pacific Ocean.


The Eco-Health Relationship Browser

Ecosystem services are the goods and services people derive from the natural environment, such as clean water, fertile soil for crop production, pollination, and flood control and water filtration from wetlands.


EPA Science Supports Vapor Intrusion Guidance

To help communities and others better account for and protect the benefits they derive from the environment, in 2012 EPA researchers developed an Eco-Health Relationship Browser.


Water Systems in Puerto Rico

EPA researchers are customizing innovative water treatment systems to help better protect people living in small communities in Puerto Rico that currently rely on untreated sources of drinking water, making them vulnerable to periodic outbreaks of waterborne diseases.


Sustainability Science: Understanding Ecosystem Services in Wetlands

The multitudes of benefits people derive from the environment are so abundant and free flowing that they are easy to overlook. Because these benefits are difficult to quantify, they are often left out or undervalued in risk assessments and other analyses that decision makers use to set environmental policies and protect human health.


Nutrient Tool for Lakes

EPA researchers in Narragansett, Rhode Island, recently updated an important online resource that contains information on more than 28,000 lakes in the northeastern United States. Scientists developed this Web tool to guide management decisions, particularly those that affect the flow of nutrients into the nation’s lakes.


Supporting Sustainable and Healthy Tribal and Native Alaskan Communities

The 565 federally recognized Tribal nations across the United States manage more than 95 million acres of land. EPA's American Indian Environmental Office works with those Tribes to protect human health and the environment by supporting and implementing federal environmental and related human health protection laws (as consistent with the Tribes' sovereign rights, federal responsibilities, and EPA's official Indian Policy).


Protecting Children's Health for a Lifetime

For more than 14 years, EPA has partnered with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to expand knowledge about children’s environmental health through the EPA/NIEHS Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Program.


EPA-Sponsored Biodiversity Exhibit Opens at the National Zoo

EPA science has taken its place as a featured exhibit alongside giant pandas, bald eagles, and tigers at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.


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