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2012 EPA Research Progress Report

Chemical Safety for Sustainability

Chemical safety is a major priority for EPA. Achieving a safer and more sustainable future requires developing new, innovative methods to design, manufacture, use, and dispose of existing and new chemicals in cleaner, less toxic ways. With tens of thousands of chemicals currently in use and hundreds more introduced every year, it also demands faster, more efficient chemical testing and screening methods.

EPA chemical research is focused on advancing a better understanding of chemicals to maximize safety and sustainability. Researchers are developing fast, efficient, and less-costly ways to collect and analyze data, better predict chemical risk, and help reduce the current backlog of chemicals not fully assessed for potential human health and environmental effects.

The data and studies EPA researchers generate are publicly available through transparent, accessible, online tools, providing the latest science-based safety data to support better, more informed decisions protecting human health and the environment.

Research Highlights

This section highlights some of the top research results in computational toxicology, nanotechnology, sustainable chemical design, pesticides, industrial chemicals, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and human health risk EPA researchers and their partners achieved in 2012.

EPA's Computational Toxicology Research

EPA computational toxicology researchers are using advances in exposure science, molecular and systems biology, chemistry, mathematical and computer modeling, and computer technology to predict chemical hazards and risk.

Increasing Transparency and Accessibility of Chemical Safety Information

EPA’s computational toxicology research is building accessible, online databases on thousands of chemicals that can be shared with the public and those making policy and regulatory decisions about the safety of chemicals.

ToxCast Partnership to Advance Chemical Testing, Reduce Animal Testing

A major component of EPA’s computational toxicology research (see previous stories) is EPA’s toxicity forecaster, or “ToxCast.” Researchers are using ToxCast as part of work to systematically screen chemicals to better understand the potential impact exposures have on processes in the human body that lead to adverse health effects.

Ensuring Safe Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials

EPA is leading scientific efforts to understand the potential risks to humans and the environment from nanomaterials.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Research

Scientists have discovered that exposures to excess hormones or to certain chemicals, known collectively as "endocrine disrupting chemicals," can disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system, which can lead to a series of development problems and other adverse effects, including cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and childhood disorders.

Promoting Chemical Sustainability

Together with its partners, EPA is exploring how to incorporate the concepts of sustainability to advance the design of new, innovative, "green" products made of safer substances and manufactured with more efficient, clean processes.

PCB Research Supports Safer Schools

In 2012, EPA researchers completed the first three of five studies they are conducting to answer questions about polychlorinated biphenyls, or "PCBs," in schools. What they are learning is providing key information to minimize exposures and better protect students, teachers, and others.

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