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Office of Research and Development

Research Plans

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Multi-Year Plans

EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) has a strategic multi-year planning process to guide the direction of its research over five or more years. This approach enables ORD to focus on EPA's highest priority needs for science and promotes coordination of research across its laboratories and centers to achieve research goals. ORD's research program is planned in collaboration with EPA's program and regional offices, and is described in Multi-Year Plans (MYPs).

MYPs identify long-term research goals and outline annual performance goals (APGs) and associated annual performance measures (APMs). The purpose of the plans is to:

  • Provide an overview of the direction of the research
  • Present significant research accomplishments
  • Communicate ORD's research program

MYPs are intended to be living documents and are updated as needed to reflect the current state of the science; input from clients, stakeholders, and advisory groups, resource availability; and Agency priorities.

Clean Air Research Plan

The Clean Air Research Program in ORD provides the science and develops the tools to support the Agency's statutory responsibilities under the Clean Air Act. The program provides the scientific foundation to develop regulations and advanced tools and models to implement the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) by states, regions and tribes. The program also strives to develop better ways to track progress in achieving health and environmental improvements under EPA's goal for clean air.

The multi-year plan for Clean Air Research defines the research needed by regulatory decision-makers to protect the public health from air pollutants. A primary research focus is on particulate matter (PM) and ozone as high risk pollutants. Research is also conducted to advance scientific understanding of hazardous air pollutants. The research program is moving toward a multi-pollutant approach to the assessment of air pollution. Such an approach better reflects the complexity of real-world air pollution problems and parallels evolving scientific and regulatory considerations.

Clean Air Research Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (52 pp, 593KB)

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Drinking Water Research Plan

The Drinking Water Research Program in ORD supports the Agency's responsibilities to apply sound science for regulatory decisions under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). ORD's research to characterize and manage public health risks associated with exposure to waterborne contaminants provides input for EPA's review, revision, development, and implementation of SDWA rules.

The multi-year plan for drinking water research addresses the safety, reliability, and sustainability of public drinking water systems. Research is focused on protecting supplies of drinking water sources, investigating treatment strategies for reducing health risks from waterborne pathogens and chemical contaminants, preventing water quality deterioration in drinking water distribution and storage systems, and developing tools to assess potential health benefits of regulations.

Drinking Water Research Multi-Year Plan - under revision

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Ecosystem Services Research Plan

The Ecosystem Services Research Program in ORD is conducting innovative ecological research that provides the information and methods needed to assess the benefits of ecosystem services to human well-being. Scientists are providing the methods, models and tools needed by policy decision-makers to make clear how our choices affect the type, quality, and magnitude of the services we receive from ecosystems.

The multi-year plan provides the approach to addressing the knowledge gaps in understanding and measuring ecosystem services. The research is based on more than a decade of research on monitoring, diagnostic/modeling, and restoration of ecosystems. The results of this research will provide the scientific foundation for others who shape policy and management actions that protect public health and the environment.

Ecosystem Services Research Multi-Year Plan - under revision
EPA's Draft Ecosystem Services Research Program Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (133 pp, 3.6 MB)

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Endocrine Disruptors Research Plan

Endocrine disruptor research in ORD focuses on improving our scientific understanding of the exposures, effects, and management of endocrine disruptor chemicals and determining the extent of the impact they may have on humans, wildlife, and the environment.

The multi-year plan defines the strategic approaches to providing the methods, models, and tools needed to improve our understanding of the potential risks to human health and wildlife from endocrine disruptoring chemicals.

Endocrine Disruptors Research Multi-Year Plan - under revision
Draft Endocrine Disruptors Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (77 pp, 393K)

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Global Change Research Plan

The Global Change Research Program in ORD addresses the potential consequences of global change--particularly on climate variability and change--on air and water quality, aquatic ecosystems, human health, and socioeconomic systems in the United States. The research program integrates the physical, biological and social sciences to provide innovative methods, approaches and tools to determine how best to respond to changes in our climate.

The multi-year plan for global change research provides a strategic approach to providing the science needed to develop adaptations to climate variability. The research is focused on providing critical information to improve society's ability to effectively respond to the risks and opportunities presented by global change, and to develop decision support tools for resource managers coping with a changing climate.

Global Change Research Multi-Year Plan - under revision

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Human Health Research Plan

The Human Health Research Program in ORD represents EPA's only comprehensive program to address the scientific uncertainties in human health risk assessment. The research program develops the methods, models, tools and information needed to strengthen the scientific foundation for human health risk assessment in the Agency.

The multi-year plan describes the strategic approach to research to improve human health risk assessment-risk management processes. The research addresses the research identified by EPA that will advance the ability to conduct risk assessments. The focus of the research is on reducing uncertainties by providing a greater understanding of the fundamental determinants of exposure and dose and the basic biological changes that follow exposure to environmental toxicants.

Human Health Research Multi-Year Plan

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Human Health Risk Assessment Plan

The Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) program supports effective and informed decision making required by several legislative acts including the Food Quality Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Clean Air Act and supports the risk assessment needs of EPA, states and other government organizations. The HHRA is one of the Agency's highest priority programs with peer-reviewed products used extensively by EPA programs, regional offices, and other parties to determine the potential risk to public health from exposure to environmental contaminants, develop regulatory standards, and manage environmental cleanups.

The HHRA program incorporates, integrates, and coordinates the use of scientific information to directly respond to regulatory decision-making. The MYP describes the ongoing and planned activities to develop state-of-the-art health risk assessment methods and models and generate hazard and dose-response assessments. Research products that have supported EPA's decision making include the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessments, Integrated Science Assessments (ISA) for major air pollutants, and other assessments (e.g., World Trade Center). The HHRA program is at the forefront of applying quantitative methods to advance risk assessment to reduce uncertainty in risk extrapolations and to replace default uncertainty factors and conducts scientific evaluations to support critical risk assessment products such as the EPA 2005 Cancer Guidelines and Early-Life Supplemental Guidance.

Human Health Risk Assessment MYP

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Land Research Plan

The Land Research Program in ORD provides problem-driven research to support the research needs of EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). The research program collaborates with OSWER and EPA's regional offices to address the most important science issues surrounding contaminated sites, oil spills and other hazardous waste issues that affect policy development and program implementation. Research is focused on the types of sites and environmental contamination that have the highest risks and uncertainties and the largest impact on public health and the environment.

The multi-year plan for land research describes research to restore and preserve our land from hazardous waste contamination. Research is focused on improving scientific knowledge and developing cost effective methods, models, and tools that can be used to restore and revitalize contaminated sites.

Land Research Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (125 pp, 876KB)

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Safe Pesticides/Safe Products Research Plan

The Safe Pesticides/Safe Products (SP2) Research in ORD supports the Agency's responsibilities to reduce risks presented from chemicals we use in our daily lives by providing the method, models, and scientific information. Several laws mandate EPA's oversight and regulatory responsibilities to reduce risks from chemicals used on food and the use of pesticides. These include the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).

The multi-year plan for safe pesticides/safe products describes the research needed by EPA to reduce or prevent unreasonable risks to humans, wildlife, and non-target plants from exposures to pesticides, toxic chemicals and products of biotechnology. Research is focused on developing genomic and computational methods for prioritization of regulatory data requirements; enhancing the ability to interpret data submitted as part of the regulatory process; and providing targeted, multidisciplinary research in response to specific research needs of EPA.

Safe Pesticides/Safe Products Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (103 pp, 944KB)

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Water Quality Research Plan

The Water Quality Research Program in ORD provides the research to protect human health and the environment in support of the Clean Water Act. The research program is addressing the need for new or improved methods, approaches, and tools to assess, restore and protect aquatic systems and provide measurable improvement in water quality.

The multi-year plan for water quality research defines the research needed to protect and restore our nation's drinking water sources. Research is focused on water quality management, watershed management and source control management.

Water Quality Multi-Year Plan (PDF) (55 pp, 550KB, About PDF)

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.