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Research Strategies

Research strategies frame the scientific questions associated with important environmental issues and delineate the research needs and relative priorities required to address those questions. Research strategies provide the link between the ORD Strategic Plan and the research plans.

Completed Research Strategies and Plans include . . .

Draft Research Strategies and Plans include . . .


Human Health Research Strategy (PDF) (67 pp, 1.6MB)

Abstract:

EPA/ORD has prepared the Human Health Research Strategy to strengthen the scientific foundation of EPA's risk assessments and risk management decisions. ORD research strategy documents provide a framework of needs and priorities to guide its programs over five to ten years. Human health risk assessment provides a qualitative and quantitative characterization of the relationship between environmental exposures and effects observed in exposed individuals. Research to improve human health risk assessment is based on the assumption that major uncertainties in risk assessment can be reduced by understanding and elucidating the fundamental determinants of exposure and dose and the basic biological changes that follow exposure to pollutants leading to a toxic response. Research within this strategic theme will focus on three objectives, including harmonizing human health risk assessments, predicting aggregate/ cumulative risk, and protecting subpopulations. ORD’s human health research program will address disparate approaches for the risk assessment of cancer and noncancer health effects. ORD’s research on aggregate/cumulative risk will address the fact that humans are exposed to mixtures of pollutants from multiple sources. This program will develop the scientific support for decisions concerning exposure to a pollutant by multiple routes of exposure or to multiple pollutants having a similar mode or mechanism of action. ORD’s research on susceptible subpopulations (i.e., children, older adults, genetically predisposed, or those with preexisting health problems) will focus on developing a scientific understanding of the biological basis for differing responsiveness of subpopulations within the general populations, including factors associated with their differential exposures. In addition to these objectives, ORD will provide the scientific understanding and tools to EPA and others in evaluating the effectiveness of public health outcomes resulting from risk management decisions.

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Environmental Economics Research Strategy

Abstract:

Economics research is an essential component for developing efficient environmental policy. The Environmental Economics Research Strategy (EERS) was developed to guide environmental economics research at EPA for the next few years. EPA staff and managers were interviewed to identify research priorities in environmental economics. By using these priorities, and comparing them to existing research, EPA established strategic objectives to help the Agency and its clients achieve their missions. The strategic objectives include research in:

EPA plans to apply internal and extramural resources to fill the most important research gaps in the above areas. This information will:

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Environmental Risks to Children (PDF) (81 pp, 470KB)

Abstract:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Research and Development (ORD) is pleased to announce the availability of its Strategy for Research on Environmental Risks to Children. This document provides the strategic direction for ORD's research program in children's health.

EPA is committed to promoting a safe and healthy environment for children by ensuring that all EPA regulations, standards, policies, and risk assessments consider special childhood vulnerabilities to environmental pollutants. Environmental health threats to children are often difficult to recognize and assess because of limited understanding of when and why children's exposures and responses are different from those of adults.

ORD has prepared the Strategy for Research on Environmental Risks to Children to strengthen the scientific foundation of the EPA risk assessments and risk management decisions that affect children. ORD strategies provide a framework of research needs and priorities to guide its programs over the next five to ten years. They form the basis for more detailed research plans, which in turn link to individual ORD laboratory implementation plans. The Strategy for Research on Environmental Risks to Children includes a stable, long-term, core program of research in hazard identification, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk management, as well as problem-oriented research that addresses current critical needs identified by EPA Program Offices and Regions.

The strategy describes the current ORD research program for children's health and its relation to research in other Federal agencies, descriptions of which were obtained from publicly - available sources. It outlines research program directions aimed at development of data to reduce uncertainties in risk assessment, risk assessment methods and models, new approaches to data collection, and risk prevention and reduction methods. The strategy encompasses research performed by EPA in-house scientists and research supported through ORD's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants program.

A team of scientists from the ORD national laboratories and centers; the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances; the Office of Water; and the Office of Children's Health Protection developed the strategy. The internal review was conducted by the Associate Directors for Health of ORD's three national laboratories and the National Center for Environmental Assessment. The external peer review was conducted by a group of experts that convened at a workshop in Washington, DC, on November 9 and 10, 1999. The strategy reflects the comments of the internal and external reviewers and the EPA Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee.

Contact Karen Hammerstrom: at hammerstrom.karen@epamail.epa.gov

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Action Plan for Beaches and Recreational Waters (PDF) (27 pp, 1.2MB)

Abstract:

Americans continue to face risks of illness from swimming and other recreational activities in coastal areas, lakes, and rivers that are contaminated with disease-causing microbes. While there is no true measure of all adverse effects, epidemiology studies in the U.S. and abroad have consistently found an association between gastrointestinal illness and exposure to contaminated recreational waters. Local monitoring and management programs for recreational waters vary widely, which results in different standards and levels of protection across the country. EPA is taking a role in assisting state, tribal, and local authorities to strengthen their programs to protect users of recreational waters, through it's Action Plan for Beaches and Recreational Waters (the “Beach Action Plan”).

The Beach Action Plan is a multi-year strategy for reducing the risks of infection to recreational water users through improved water quality programs, risk communication, and scientific advances. It recognizes that authorities need the flexibility to respond to local and regional variations in factors such as pollution sources and climate that affect recreational waters. The Beach Action Plan responds to the Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure and Health (BEACH) Program announced by EPA Administrator Carol Browner in May 1997 as well as the President's 1998 Clean Water Action Plan. The Beach Action Plan describes activities of EPA's Office of Water (OW) and Office of Research and Development (ORD) to accomplish two primary objectives: to enable consistent management of recreational water quality programs, and to improve the science that supports recreational water monitoring programs.

Contact: Barbara Klieforth: at  klieforth.barbara@epa.gov

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Pollution Prevention Research Strategy (PDF) (46 pp, 632KB)

Abstract:

One of the strategic goals of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to prevent pollution and reduce risk in communities, homes, workplaces, and ecosystems. This goal must be based in large part on the application of the best available science and technology associated with a preventive approach. The Office of Research and Development's (ORD's) Pollution Prevention Research Strategy describes the Agency's research and development program in pollution prevention for the next five years. It is designed around the vision that scientifically-based pollution prevention research and development products will be used routinely for improved environmental decision making on high-risk human health and environmental problems. Such would be done as part of a move toward sustainable development in the 21st Century. In realizing the above vision, the mission of ORD's pollution prevention research and development program will be to advance scientific research and develop cost-effective tools, methods, technologies, and approaches which expand the availability and use of pollution prevention by both the public and private sectors. The research strategy focuses on four objectives in order to achieve this mission: (1) delivering broadly applicable tools and methodologies for pollution prevention and sustainability, (2) developing and transferring pollution prevention technologies and approaches, (3) verifying selected pollution prevention technologies, and (4) conducting research to address economic, social and behavioral research for pollution prevention.

Contact Jonathan Herrmann: at herrmann.jonathan@epamail.epa.gov.

To order paper copies of the Pollution Prevention Research Strategy call: (800) 490-9198.

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Research Plan for Arsenic in Drinking Water (PDF) (63 pp, 192KB)

Abstract:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) develops research plans to guide its research direction pertaining to specific environmental issues over a 5- to 10-year time frame. This research plan addresses opportunities to enhance the scientific basis for understanding the health risks associated with arsenic in drinking water as well as research to support improved control technologies for water treatment. Better understanding of arsenic health risks will provide an improved science base for arsenic risk assessment and regulatory decisions in the United States. Further evaluation of control technologies will support cost-effective implementation of future regulatory requirements.

Contact Lynn Papa: at papa.lynn@epamail.epa.gov.

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Research Plan for Endocrine Disruptors (PDF) (52 pp, 659KB)

Abstract:

This research strategy was developed to provide a roadmap for the EPA Office of Research and Development's program on endocrine disruptors. It was developed by a team of scientists representing all of ORD's National Laboratories and Centers and is intended to provide guidance to both the intramural research program and the extramural grants program in terms of research priorities and the pacing of the research programs over the next five years (e.g., the need for risk management activities is recognized, but efforts are not scheduled to begin in earnest for several years as we strive to better comprehend the extent, magnitude, and sources of the biological effects). The plan recognizes that there is a great deal of research in this area being funded by the federal government and seeks to emphasize those areas where EPA can make a substantive and meaningful contribution. The plan has been circulated through the CENR (Committee on the Environment and National Resources) Working Group on Endocrine Disruptors that is coordinating efforts across the federal government. Briefly, the plan addresses research needs in the areas of biological effects (both for human health and wildlife) and exposure assessment. Importantly, it also contains a “linkage” section that strives to integrate effects and exposure research to provide a more complete analysis of the risks than has generally been done in the past for endocrine disruptors. It is the intent of this strategy that specific projects will be chosen for funding following peer review of proposals submitted under targeted RFAs during each budget year. These RFAs will be based on the overall strategy, and fine tuned each year to ensure the appropriate balance and mix of research given progress achieved in prior years. With its risk assessment based organizational structure, ORD is in a unique position to provide national leadership in this important public health issue.

Contact: Elaine Francis at francis.elaine@epa.gov.

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Microbial Pathogens and Disinfection By-Products in Drinking Water (PDF) (173 pp, 669KB)

Abstract:

This research plan was developed to describe research needed to support EPA’s development of drinking water regulations concerning disinfectants, disinfection by-products (DBPs) and microbial pathogens, focusing on key scientific and technical information needed. The research plan was developed by a team of scientists from EPA's National Laboratories and Centers, within the Office of Research and Development, and from the Office of Water. The Plan is intended to provide guidance to both the intramural research program and the extramural grants program in terms of research priorities and sequencing of research. The challenge in providing safe drinking water today lies in reaching an acceptable balance among competing risks from microbial contamination and disinfection by-products. Research is needed to obtain a better understanding of these risks and how to reduce them through water treatment and other means. The research plan addresses research needs in the areas of exposure, health effects, risk assessment and risk management for both microbial pathogens and disinfection by-products. The EPA also has been using this research plan as a vehicle for discussion with outside groups, including those who participated in the DBP regulatory negotiation, and as a tool to promote coordination and cooperation among various agencies, private organizations, and universities involved in DBP research, in the context of broader research coordination efforts. The Plan has been reviewed by the Science Advisory Board, and by other agencies and stakeholder groups, and was revised to reflect many of their recommendations and to update developments in the state of the science since 1995.

Contact Bruce Peirano: at peirano.bruce@epamail.epa.gov.

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Global Change Research Strategy (PDF) (62 pp, 230KB)

Abstract:

The Research Strategy of ORD’s Global Change Research Program outlines a ten-year plan and a major redirection of the Program towards an emphasis on assessing the consequences of global change and on conducting research to support such assessments. Assessments will be conducted on the impacts of global change on human health, water quality, air quality, and ecosystem health. These four assessment areas represent topics for which EPA has substantial expertise and where EPA can contribute to the national scale assessment called for in the Global Change Research Act. In addition, the emphasis of the research Program is consistent with the mandate and goals of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The Research Strategy represents a blueprint for research and assessment activities focused on understanding the risks and opportunities presented by global change, the interdependent and interactive effects of multiple stresses (including climate change and climate variability, UV radiation, and land use change), the human dimensions of global change, and adaptation options. The long-term goal of the Global Change Program is to articulate, in terms that are meaningful for decision makers and other stakeholders, the consequences of global environmental change for human health, ecosystems, and social well-being in the U.S.

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