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Research

Building Partnerships, Serving Regions, and Supporting Communities

Introduction

EPA supports the Nation’s leading scientists and engineers to facilitate the pursuit and dissemination of high-quality research to build a strong scientific foundation for Agency actions and decisions. In addition, EPA researchers cultivate and maintain partnerships with research colleagues at colleges and universities across the world, at sister federal and state agencies, and other entities throughout the scientific community.

The Agency’s extramural research program funds research grants, graduate and undergraduate fellowships, and large research centers through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. These programs engage the Nation’s best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own outstanding intramural research programs.

EPA is also one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small business in Federal research and development, create jobs, and promote technical innovation. EPA’s SBIR program awards funds to innovative small businesses that have novel concepts for products and technologies that will help spur economic growth while advancing a more sustainable future.

EPA scientists partner directly with Agency regional Offices to bring the collective expertise of Agency scientists and engineers to bear on high-profile environmental and related human health challenges.

This section highlights some of the many accomplishments that EPA made in 2010, such as building partnerships and supporting EPA regions and communities, including:  inspiring the next generation of environmental engineers and scientists through the 6th Annual Student Design Competition for Sustainability, the 2010 EPA Tribal Science Forum, and a number of grants and awards that are helping to stimulate a vibrant and sustainable economic recovery and advance the Nation’s commitment to science and technology leadership.

When Students Compete for Sustainability, Everybody Wins!

Student engineers and scientists competed for the Best Sustainable Design at the Annual National Sustainable Design Expo.

On April 24 and 25, 2010, 42 teams of budding scientists and engineers from colleges and graduate schools from across the country gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC, at the Sixth Annual National Sustainable Design Expo to showcase their innovative designs for advancing environmental sustainability.

The teams competed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s coveted P3 Award for sustainability.

The three “P’s” in P3 stand for People, Prosperity, and the Planet. Established in 2004, the competition is focused on supporting innovative designs that benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet while advancing sustainability in both the developed and developing world.

The competition has two phases. In phase I, student teams and their faculty advisors submit research proposals for a chance to earn up to $10,000 in seed money to research and develop their design projects during the academic year.

All phase I grantees are invited to the National Mall in Washington, DC, each spring to present their projects at the National Sustainable Design Expo. Each design is reviewed by a panel of judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The panel’s evaluations are passed on to EPA officials, who then award the prestigious EPA P3 Award.

The P3 Award brings with it the opportunity to receive up to $75,000 in additional funding to advance designs from the prototype phase to the marketplace.

The winning 2010 P3 teams and their innovative sustainable designs were:

The announcement of the winning teams was not the only highlight of the year for EPA’s P3 Award Competition.  Micromidas, a small business founded by former P3 winning students that now employs 26 people, was selected as one of the Top 50 Water Innovation Leaders by the Artemis Project. In addition, 2010 was the first full year of educational service for The Learning Barge, a floating field station and classroom designed by a 2007 P3 team from the University of Virginia that created seven new green jobs.

EPA Co-hosted the 2010 National Tribal Science Forum

Mother Earth: indigenous knowledge and science to promote positive change.

The National EPA-Tribal Science Council co-hosted its second National Tribal Science Forum in partnership with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The 2010 National Tribal Science Forum took place June 6-10, 2010, at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, owned by the tribe and located near the tribal complex in Traverse City, Michigan. The forum theme was Mother Earth:  Indigenous Knowledge and Science to Promote Positive Change.

More than 225 attendees representing more than 60 American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages; tribal colleges and universities; tribal organizations; intertribal consortia; private and nonprofit organizations; federal, state, and local governments—as well as representatives of EPA and other federal agencies—participated in the 5-day event.

The Forum was structured around the concept of the Circle of Life, or Medicine Wheel, a powerful symbol that has many meanings to the First Nations and American Indian tribes across America. Four knowledge tracks—Air, Water, Earth, and Community Health—aligned to four directions of the Circle provided the basic concepts around which participants shared Western and traditional tribal knowledge. Climate change was an overarching theme among the knowledge tracks.

The purpose of the Forum was to provide platforms to discuss issues of vital interest to Indian Country. The Forum:

  • Showcased tribal science through cutting-edge research and case studies.
  • Promoted native science and highlighted progress being made in environmental and health programs on tribal lands.
  • Highlighted tribal science success stories through presentations, exhibits, and a poster session.
  • Provided opportunities for technical training in high-priority areas identified by tribal governments and Tribal Science Council members.
  • Facilitated networking and the sharing of knowledge among native scientists and environmental professionals from throughout Indian Country.
  • Linked scientists and other attendees with Native American students so they could talk, listen, and “hear their environmental voices.”
  • The range of activities at the Forum included scientific presentations, intensive professional trainings, poster presentations, a local field trip, a film screening, and networking sessions.

Partnerships: Serving the Regions and Tribes

Bringing science and expertise to meet high-priority, local science needs.

EPA has ten regional offices across the country, each of which is responsible for meeting the Agency’s mission to protect human health and the environment in the states and territories within its region. To support those efforts, Agency scientists and engineers form partnerships with their colleagues in the states and territories to effectively respond to the high-priority, near-term research needs of regional offices.
 
Annually, the Agency makes funds available to each EPA region to develop research topics, and working partnerships are established to coordinate all necessary interactions between regions and scientists and other technical staff across the Agency. Such partnerships:  (1) provide the regions and communities across the Nation with near-term research on high-priority localized needs; (2) improve collaboration between regions and Agency laboratories and research centers; (3) build the foundation for ongoing and future scientific interactions; and (4) develop useful tools for state, local, and tribal governments to address near-term and emerging environmental challenges.

Highlights from 2010 progress in EPA Regional Science partnerships include:

Region 1 (New England)

  • Agency researchers continued to evaluate the unique cultural exposure pathways of the Penobscot tribe in Maine to assess potential public health threats of ongoing traditional practices, such as gathering medicinal plants, fishing, and harvesting wild duck and turtle meat. The contaminant exposure assessments resulting from the study are expected to inform tribal, federal, state, and local decision makers in restoring a healthy, functioning ecosystem to further strengthen the environmental, economic, and social integrity of the Penobscot Nation.

  • EPA researchers are partnering with colleagues from the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and numerous states and municipalities to address the issue of pharmaceuticals in low flow situations on the Assabet River (PDF) (30 pp, 1.7MB, About PDF). What is learned from this study has the potential to set a precedent for future federal discharge permits in the state.

Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight Tribal Nations)

  • New York City Department of Health's recent Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the geometric mean of blood mercury concentrations in the 1,811 adult New Yorkers tested were three-times that of the national estimate. In response to that alarming finding, Region 2 and Agency scientists measured mercury and PCBs in the 20 most commonly consumed fish and shellfish products sold in New York City's New Fulton Fish Market, the Nation's largest wholesale fish market.

    Results from the collaborative study were used to support and inform the content of New York City’s “Eat Fish, Choose Wisely” public health campaign (PDF) (2 pp, 13K, About PDF) on dietary guidelines for the City’s 8 million residents.

Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

  • Since 2006, EPA scientists have provided scientific support for enhanced review of 79 mountaintop valley fill permit applications based on the potential impacts of total dissolved solids on aquatic species. The permit decisions supported by the research results, including monitoring and mitigation technology options, will have a major environmental impact on the Appalachian region.

Region 4 (Southeast)

  • EPA’s Region 4 partnered to sponsor the EPA Regional Science Workshop on Using Treated Graywater as an Environmental Solution (PDF) (8 pp, 95K, About PDF) in Atlanta on May 18-20, 2010. 

    The workshop brought together experts from EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal and state agencies, academia, and the private sector to discuss and understand available science, and determine what additional science is needed to inform the Agency’s research agenda and, ultimately, policy direction related to graywater. 

    The workshop resulted in a consensus to pursue three primary research areas:  (1) research to support the development of metrics and tools that are needed to undertake urban water sustainability assessments; (2) research to provide better measures/indicators of graywater treatment performance, human/environmental impact and ways to cost-effectively achieve safe reuse; and (3) research to enable sociological, economic, and regulatory reforms.

Region 6 (South Central)

Region 7 (Midwest)

  • Region 7 and Agency scientists collaborated and coordinated in the monitoring, assessment and mitigation of unknown CO2 intrusions in homes located north of Wichita, Kansas. Region 7 worked with Agency scientists and the local community to help notify homeowners of the potential critical health effects caused by oxygen depletion and is carrying out a continuous monitoring effort to assist with understanding the potential sources and causes of CO2 intrusions.

  • Region 7 Superfund Remedial Project Managers (RPMs) found that groundwater samples collected at remediation sites contained binary mixtures (PDF) (33 pp, 2MB, About PDF) of both the chemical oxidants used for in situ treatment and the contaminants being treated.  These binary mixtures fouled laboratory equipment, had to be diluted to the point that data were often unusable, and the concentrations of the contaminants were not representative of site conditions.

    Agency scientists and other staff collaborated on research project to test potential permanganate neutralization methods. As a result of the collaboration, a safe, novel preservative (ascorbic acid) was identified that effectively neutralized oxidants in samples.

    More than 3,000 sites using or considering permanganate as a remediation technology will benefit from this research by informing better short- and long-term groundwater remediation. The research results will directly benefit residential and community groundwater supply resource protection near hazardous waste sites.

  • Historical mining, milling, and smelting activities have impacted residential properties and communities with contamination. Multiple collaborative applied research projects between Agency researchers and Region 7 are addressing issues, including a multistate, one-watershed cleanup plan (PDF) (12 pp, 51K, About PDF) for:  a 2,500-square-mile area; a county-wide point-of-use drinking water system effectiveness evaluation; a city-wide surface and near-surface residential soil exposure study; a city-wide educational and social outcomes study; and a site-wide soil stockpile leaching study.

    The results of these activities will assist in reducing exposure to contaminants and better protecting residents and communities. Both urban and rural residents and communities will benefit from increased effectiveness and efficiencies of remedies addressing historical mining, milling, and smelting contamination.

Region 8 (Mountains and Plains)

  • In Libby, Montana, Region 8 staff members are teamed up with Agency researchers to perform Libby amphibole-specific human health assessments (PDF) (4 pp, 53K, About PDF) to support several site-specific baseline assessments for risk. Agency technical staff performed analytical studies to support in vitro and in vivo toxicity studies and laboratory in vitro and in vivo studies. A Region 8 toxicologist developed a dosimetry model for improved exposure-response evaluations from Libby amphibole- exposed populations.

    Region 8 and Agency researchers are addressing specifically children’s risk, collecting exposure data that include exposure scenarios targeted to children’s activities, as well as conducting laboratory experiments with young rats exposed to Libby amphibole material.                     
  • Region 8 and Agency scientists initiated a research project to study the green roof on the Agency’s Regional Headquarters building. The research evaluated green roof technology for biological performance and its effectiveness as a best management practice for stormwater control and to mitigate the heat island effect in the region. 

    In addition to providing air and water quality benefits and reducing heating and cooling needs, the green roof is expected to reduce peak flow and runoff volumes from rain and snowmelt events to mimic a more natural landscape. This will minimize harmful impacts from concentrated stormwater runoff to the nearby South Platte River.

    Green roof data collected will be added to the list of best management practices to help mitigate the environmental impacts of stormwater runoff from developed and developing areas and improving the health of the Nation’s impaired waterways.  

Region 9 (Pacific Southwest)

  • EPA scientists worked with partners in Region 9 and the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGA) to publish a standard operating procedure (SOP) (Collection of Pyrethoids in Water and Sediment Matrices: Development and Validation of a Standard Operating Procedure) that could be followed to collect field samples in order to accurately monitor pyrethoid chemicals in the water.

    Pyrethroids are the most common insecticides used in agricultural areas and the urban marketplace. Because they are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, it is important that they be accurately measured in the environment. This can be a challenge because pyrethroid insecticides stick to the surfaces of collection containers, leading to inaccurate field samples that then confound analytical and toxicity test results. Working together, the research team provided standardized sample collection protocols for accurate pyrethroid assessments, and results were used to prepare a USGS Scientific Investigations Report that included the Standard Operating Procedures for pyrethroid sampling.

Region 10 (Pacific Northwest)

  • Agency researchers are conducting a study to evaluate the fate and effects of leachate contamination in Alaska’s tribal drinking water sources, which helps characterize pathogens and toxins within Alaska’s 200 plus tribal open dumps. Alaska’s open dumps contain mixed solid and hazardous wastes and are underlain by permafrost, which may act as a liner or seal. This project will help develop and implement best management practices that can be used to improve the environmental conditions.

  • Rural residents in Washington State’s Yakima Valley, including the Yakama Tribe and a large population of migrant/seasonal farm workers, are using drinking water from private wells that exceed the Federal Safe Drinking Water Maximum Contaminant Level for nitrate (PDF) (59 pp, 1.1MB, About PDF). Some wells also exceed health-based benchmarks for pesticides, metals, and bacterial contamination.

    Region 10 and Agency scientists partnered with colleagues from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Indian Health Service, and state agencies as well as the local health district to address the issue. The approach they are using includes conducting area-wide sampling to outline the extent of the contamination, identify agricultural or other contaminant sources, and support mitigation actions.

    Results so far have included the development of a unique GIS mapping method to target sample collection for identifying source contributions in agricultural settings. The partnership effort will further determine measures to protect public health and may contribute to voluntary changes and, if necessary, support for EPA enforcement actions.

Stoking the Nation's Economic Engine: EPA's Small Business Innovation Research Awards

Agency awards spur economic growth while supporting green investments.

There are approximately 25 million small businesses in the United States today. As the leading source of employment growth, these firms have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs over the past decade and are responsible for developing most of the country's new technologies.
 
Today, EPA is helping to tap the economic engine and creative energy of small businesses to help meet environmental challenges while they help lead an economic recovery.
 
In 2010, EPA awarded 4.855 million to 45 small businesses to develop innovative, sustainable technologies to protect human health and the environment. These efforts will help improve air quality, protect water, work to decrease the effects of climate change, and support green jobs.
 
The award-winning businesses, located in 16 different states, focused on several key environmental research areas: increasing the efficiency of green building materials and systems; manufacturing innovation; prevention, monitoring and control using nanotechnology; reducing greenhouse gases; new treatment technologies for drinking water; improving water infrastructure; reducing emissions from small air pollution sources, vehicles and biofuels production facilities; new approaches for cleaning up and monitoring hazardous waste sites; and new tools for homeland security systems.

EPA's SBIR program was established to ensure that new technologies are developed to solve priority environmental problems. EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs and promote technical innovation in the United States.

In 2010, Ecovative Design (PDF) (3 pp, 92K, About PDF), a previous EPA-supported SBIR winner, was selected as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The award recognized the development of a patent-pending material platform that uses crop wastes as the raw material to produce a strong and fast-growing resin that is an alternative to expanded polystyrene (EPS) used in the multibillion dollar protective packaging market.

Ecovative leveraged more than $6 million in venture capital funds as a result of its EPA SBIR award, and has created more than 20 new green jobs.

Recipeint
Title
Amount
Awarded ($)

AccuStrata, Inc.

Development of Intelligent Process Control for Thin Film Solar Panel Manufacturing

$70,000

AdvR, Inc.

Fiber Based Return Signal CO2 Sensing System for Sequestration Site Monitoring

$69,984

Aerodyne Research Inc.

PM 2.5 Emissions Reduction for Two-Stroke Engines

$70,000

Air Quality Design, Inc.

Combined Gas and Particle Measurement System

$69,676

AlburtyLab, Inc.

A Hydrosol Concentrator for Improved Measurement of Microbial Pathogens in Drinking Water

$69,972

AquaBioChip, LLC

Inexpensive, Rapid and Comprehensive Virulence and Marker Gene (VMG) Analyzer for Waterborne Pathogens

$70,000

Aspen Products Group, Inc.

Reduction of Hazardous Air Pollutant Emissions from Commercial Kitchens

$70,000

Cbana Labs, Inc.

Nanoporous Metal Organic Framework Filters for Removal of Gaseous Pollutants

$70,000

Coating Systems Laboratories, Inc.

Antimicrobial-Coated Granular Filter Media for Drinking Water Treatment

$70,000

Light Curable Coatings

Pigmented Solvent-Free Corrosion-Resistant UV Coating System

$69,997

Defiant Technologies, Inc.

Handheld Detection System for TCE and PCE

$70,000

Eltron Research Inc.

Low-Cost Retrofit Emissions Control in Off-Road Sources

$69,999

Enchem Engineering, Inc.

Advanced Mixed Oxidation and Inclusion Technology

$70,000

Excellims Corporation

Compact High Resolution Electrospray Ionization Ion Mobility Spectrometer for Online Water Monitoring

$70,000

Filtrexx International, LLC

Performance and Design Development for Compost technology used in Green Infrastructure, Green Building, and Urban Storm Water Applications

$68,510

Fusion Coolant Systems, Inc.

Through-Tool Drilling with Supercritical CO2 Metal Working Fluids

$70,000

Instrumental Polymer Technologies, LLC

Silane-Terminated Aliphatic Polycarbonate Dendrimer Solutions for Environmentally Green Coatings

$70,000

IntAct Laboratories, LLC

Bio-Electrochemical Systems for Ethanol Wastewater Treatment

$46,770

Intelligent Optical Systems Inc.

Distributed Optical Fiber Sensor for Long-term Monitoring of Groundwater Trichloroethylene Levels

$70,000

IntelliMet, LL

Economic Capture of CO2 with Amines and Ionic Liquids Tethered in the Gas Phase

$69,479

Interdisciplinary Design Collaborative, LLC

Residential Energy Optimization Algorithms

$66,890

Lao K, LLC

Mill Trials of a Novel Formaldehyde-Free Soy-Based Wood Adhesive for Making Plywood

$69,975

Lynntech Inc.

Efficient Distributed Energy Generation System

$70,000

Lynntech Inc.

Improved Heterogeneous Catalyst for the Transesterification of Triglycerides to Biodiesel

$70,000

Membrane Technology and Research Inc.

Novel Membrane Process to Utilize Dilute Methane Streams

$70,000

Mobius Technologies, Inc.

Development of Micronized Polyurethane as a Comprehensive, 100 Percent Recycled Resin for Green Building Materials and Systems

$69,760

NEI Corporation

Self-Healing Corrosion-Control Coatings: An Enabling Technology To Restore Aging Water Infrastructure and Permit Alternative Water Use for Cooling

$69,996

Smart Polymers Research Corporation

Quantum Dot/Aptamer Real-Time Flow Sensor

$69,999

TDA Research Inc.

Thermochemical Biofuels Production from Biomass Waste Materials

$70,000

Technology Specialists

Development of a Simple, Robust, and Inexpensive Alkalinity Sensor

$69,660

Technova Corporation

Value-Added Use of Milled Mixed-Color Waste Glass as a Supplementary Cementitious Material in Environmentally Friendly and Energy-Efficient Concrete Building Construction

$70,000

Voxtel, Inc.

Real-time Detection and Identification of Chemical, Biological, and Explosive (CBE) Agents With Low False Alarm Rates

$69,996

Wireless Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Wireless Instrumentation for Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by the Aluminum Industry; Measurement and Monitoring of Current Distribution in Aluminum Reduction Cells

$70,000

Omega Optics, Inc.

Photonic Crystal Slot Waveguide Spectrometer for Monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds in Groundwater and Hazardous Pollutants in Air

$70,000

Applied Sciences, Inc.

Nano-Enhanced Composite Electrodes for Electrostatic Precipitators

$224,985

Bridger Photonics, Inc.

Hand-Held Sensor for Remotely Mapping Carbon Dioxide Pollution Sources

$225,000

Dr. Ben Curatolo, Inc. d.b.a. Light Curable Coatings

Chromium-Free Corrosion-Resistant Hybrid UV Coatings

$224,998

Ecovative Design, LLC

Development and Demonstration of a Low Embodied Energy, Construction Material that Replaces Expanded Polystyrene and Other Synthetic Materials

$225,000

Fuss & O'Neill

Development and Commercialization of Granular Activated Carbon Microbial Fuel Cells for Wastewater Treatment and Power Generation

$225,000

KWJ Engineering, Inc.

Reagentless Field-Usable Fixed-Site and Portable Analyzer for Trihalomethane (THM) Concentrations in Drinking Water

$224,713

Innova Tech, Inc.

Retrofit Air Pollution Control Filter for Restaurant Underfired Charbroilers

$224,996

Ion Signature Technology, Inc.

Development of an In Situ Thermal Extraction Detection System (TEDS) for Rapid, Accurate, Quantitative Analysis of Environmental Pollutants in the Subsurface

$224,786

Scientific Methods, Inc.

Rapid Concentration of Viruses from Water

$224,987

TDA Research Inc.

A Portable Microreactor System to Synthesize Hydrogen Peroxide

$225,000

Down to Earth Energy (formerly Mountain Creek Enterprises)

Commercialization of Solid Acid and Base Catalysts Derived from Biochar Optimized to Produce Biodiesel from Low Cost Oils

$225,000

EPA Extramural Research Grants and Fellowships for 2010

EPA funds research grants and graduate fellowships in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through its Science To Achieve Results (STAR) program.

The STAR program engages the Nation's best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own outstanding intramural research program and those of Agency partners in other federal agencies. Grants are awarded through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. Current Agency-supported research includes work on drinking water, water quality, global change, ecosystem assessment and restoration, human health risk assessment, endocrine disrupting chemicals, pollution prevention and new technologies, children’s health, socio-economic research, and the health effects of particulate matter.

In addition, through this same competitive process, EPA periodically establishes large research centers in specific areas of national concern. Currently, centers focus on children’s environmental health, hazardous substances, particulate matter, and estuarine and coastal monitoring.

During 2010, EPA’s grants program awarded 103 new grants and processed incremental funding to continue to support critical ongoing projects. This $97.5 million investment in research supports broad goals of the Agency across the areas of drinking water; air pollution and global change; global change impacts on oceans, aquatic ecosystems, and air pollution; ecosystems; and human health.

Grants to Support Air, Climate, and Energy Research

Grants awarded for environmental and human health research in the areas of Air, Climate, and Energy during 2010, include the following:

  • EPA awarded $32 million for four new Clean Air Research Centers (CLARC). The centers will conduct research addressing the problem of multiple pollutants and health impacts across life states, among susceptible and vulnerable populations, and across communities (environmental justice issues), and will study health effects from cardiovascular and pulmonary problems to neurological and inflammation outcomes.

    The four CLARCs are:

    • Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. This center will combine novel measurement techniques with air pollution models to provide an assessment of the health risks of air pollution mixtures.
    • Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. This center will focus on the effects of fine particulate matter and ozone on cardiovascular health by looking at important subpopulations at risk.
    • University of Washington, Seattle, WA. This center will integrate exposure, epidemiological, toxicological, clinical, and statistical sciences to study the cardiovascular hazards of recent and aged roadway emissions.
    • Harvard University, Boston, MA. This center will investigate the effects of short- and long-term exposures to individual pollutants, pollution sources, and multipollutant mixtures on the brain, cardiovascular system, inflammation, birth weight/growth, and cardiovascular disease.

  • The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) is a $33 million, 10-year prospective epidemiology study to investigate the link between long-term exposure to air pollution and cardiovascular disease. This unprecedented study continues to investigate the impacts that fine particles in air pollution has on the health of a diverse group of more than 6,000 participants.

  • EPA awarded 12 new research projects that will advance understanding of air pollution emission inventories. Results of this work are critical for improving the ability to accurately model pollution in the air that we breathe. The new projects provided a research portfolio addressing scientific needs in four specific areas:

    1. Transportation - Projects investigating emissions from mobile sources and roadways will provide critical input needed for the latest generation of aerosol modules in air quality models. The research will enable links between transportation activity and road vehicle emissions, as well as emissions from ships, which significantly impact air pollution in port areas.
    2. Animal operations and ammonia - Because ammonia emissions are one of the areas of greatest uncertainty in current emission inventories, projects will contribute to developing better tools for generating ammonia emission inventories from cattle, swine and chicken operations. Additional modeling experiments will improve the national ammonia emission inventory and test the effectiveness of control strategies.
    3. Technique development - New strategies for analyzing data to develop emission inventories and new measurements will provide insight into missing or uncertain sources. New laboratory and modeling research that addresses the comparability of measurements from different laboratory systems will strengthen the comparability of data and impact how emissions are reported.
    4. Coarse PM - An emission inventory for coarse PM, including details about the biological component of the particles, will be developed. This area is of particular concern in current health studies addressing coarse PM and is a high-priority scientific need of the Agency program offices.
  • Three new projects will investigate how global change may impact the occurrence of allergic airway disease. This work will develop techniques for better measurements of pollen, understanding its production, and predicting where it may have the largest health impact under future climate scenarios.

  • Two awards support research on the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide to ensure safe and effective storage, mitigate potential risks and prevent endangerment of existing and potential sources of drinking water.

  • Eight new projects will investigate how strategies to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate will affect air quality and air quality management. These projects focus on how changing transportation infrastructure, land use, development, and climate-focused policies will impact the ability to meet air quality goals.

Grants to Support Safe and Sustainable Water Research

EPA awarded ten projects, totaling $5,365,382, under the area of advancing public health water infrastructure sustainability. Broadly, the Request for Applications (RFAs) focused on improving the effectiveness of the water infrastructure, existing and future, for protecting public health and maximizing sustainability, reliability, and efficiency of water infrastructure.

Awarded projects will:

  • Develop and test new water infrastructure system design and operation;

  • Inform public health risk assessments associated with distribution vulnerabilities;

  • Inform quantitative relationships between infrastructure conditions and public health risks associated with continuous, intermittent, or episodic water quality deterioration or contamination; and

  • Quantify the economic and energy aspects of strategies, tools, or concepts that prevent, mitigate and respond to infrastructure decay.

Seven grants (listed on the following page), funded for a total of more than $6 million were awarded in FY2010 to investigate the potential for the geological sequestration of carbon dioxide to affect underground sources of drinking water. Injecting carbon dioxide into depleted oil or gas fields and underground saline aquifers is increasingly being considered to remove large quantities of greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and help address climate change. This research is expected to lead to improved designs for carbon sequestration projects that will protect underground drinking water supplies.

Recipient(s)
Title
Amount
Awarded ($)
Innovative and Integrative Approaches for Advancing Public Health Protection Through Water Infrastructure Sustainability RFA
Emory University Measures of Distribution System Water Quality and Their Relation to Health Outcomes in Atlanta $599,429
North Carolina State University An Integrated Approach to Understanding and Reducing Fat, Oil, and Grease (FOG) Deposit Formation for Sustainable Sewer Collection Systems $599,429
Advancing Public Health Protection through Water Infrastructure Sustainability RFA
Water Research Foundation Evaluation of Lead Service Line Lining and Coating Technologies $600,000
Purdue University Development of Mobile Self-Powered Sensors for Potable Water Distribution $599,997
The University of Hawaii Rapid Detection of Sewer Pipeline Problems Using Bacterial DNA Markers and Q-PCR Technology $299,956
University of Connecticut Enabling Potable Reuse of Wastewater Using Forward Osmosis: A sustainable and Affordable Alternative to Reverse Osmosis $300,000
University of Illinois at Champaign Toxicity of Drinking Water Associated with Alternative Distribution System Rehabilitation Strategies $599,113
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Association of Pathogens with Biofilm in Drinking Water Distribution Systems $600,000
University of Wisconsin Evaluation of Sanitary Sewers as a Source of Pathogen Contamination of Municipal Water Supply Wells $598,580
University of Alabama Water Infrastructure Sustainability and Health in Alabama's Black Belt $598,739

Grants to Support Chemical Safety for Sustainability  

Three grants for a total of $6 million were awarded under a collaborative US/UK solicitation to assess the human health and environmental impacts of exposure to manufactured nanomaterials. The research produced with the support of the grants will help policy-makers better understand the potential adverse environmental and public health impacts of nanoscale materials.

Recipient(s)
Title
Amount
Awarded ($)
Rice University, Clemson University, Edinburgh Napier University, Natural History Museum (London), University of Birmingham, University of California - Davis, University of Exeter Consortium for Manufactured Nanomaterial Bioavailability & Environmental Exposure 2,000,000
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Duke University , Imperial College Risk Assessment for Manufactured Nanoparticles Used in Consumer Products (RAMNUC) 1,999,995
University of Kentucky , Carnegie Mellon University , Centre for Ecology and Hydrology , Cranfield University , Duke University , Lancaster University , Rothamsted Research Transatlantic Initiative for Nanotechnology and the Environment 2,000,000

Grants to Support Human Health Research

On October 19-20, 2010, EPA hosted the "Protecting Children's Health for a Lifetime: Environmental Health Research Meets Clinical Practice and Public Policy" Conference in Washington, DC. The meeting brought together federal and professional organizations to explore the interplay between research, clinical applications and policy implications in the field of children's environmental health. The meeting also marked the launch of the next phase of the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Centers program—a partnership among EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)—with 12 new grants for a total of nearly $60 million over the next five years. Together, EPA and NIEHS are funding six new grants for large multidisciplinary research (5-year) Centers and six new grants (3-year) for "Formative Centers."

Under the Understanding the Role of Nonchemical Stressors and Developing Analytic Methods for Cumulative Risk Assessments RFAs, EPA awarded a total of more than $7 million through seven grants.

Recipient(s)
Title
Amount
Awarded ($)
University of Pittsburgh (Main Campus), Harvard School of Public Health, New York University, West Harlem Environmental Action Community Stressors and Susceptibility to Air Pollution in Urban Asthma 1,250,000
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Combined Effects of Metals and Stress on Central Nervous System Function 1,250,000
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Effects of Stress and Traffic Pollutants on Childhood Asthma in an Urban Community 1,249,960
University of Texas School of Public Health, National Chiao-Tung University, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Hypertension in Mexican-Americans: Assessing Disparities in Air Pollutant Risks 1,250,000
Boston University New Methods for Analysis of Cumulative Risk in Urban Populations 749,226
University of Texas School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston Analytical Strategies for Assessing Cumulative Effects of Chemical and Nonchemical Stressors 555,923
Harvard School of Public Health, Channing Laboratory Effects-Based Cumulative Risk Assessment in a Low-Income Urban Community near a Superfund 749,662

Grants to Support Healthy and Sustainable Communities Research

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPA awarded a number of grants to support research on methods that could be used to estimate the variety of ecosystem services associated with agricultural settings. Collectively, the supported research aims to develop quantitative strategies to reduce the negative environmental impacts of agriculture while enhancing the ecosystem services of the land.

Recipient(s)
Title
Amount
Awarded ($)
Archbold Expeditions Assessing Trade-Offs Among Ecosystem Services in a Payment-for-Water Services Program on Florida Ranchlands 498,835
Oregon State University Enhancing Ecosystem Services in a High Risk Agroecosystem of the Interior Pacific Northwest in the Face of Climate Change and Land Use Intensification 500,000

EPA-supported Children's Environmental Health Science

EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences support a series of Children's Environmental Health Centers across the country. Researchers at one such center, the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, published two major findings in 2010:

  • Chlorpyrifos Exposure and Urban Residential Environment Characteristics as Determinants of Early Childhood Neurodevelopment, presented in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health, found that exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos—banned for use in U.S. households but still widely used throughout the agricultural industry—is associated with developmental delays in early childhood.
  • Prenatal Acetaminophen Exposure and Risk of Wheeze at Age 5 Years in an Urban Low-Income Cohort, published in the February 2010 issue of the journal Thorax, presents findings that children who were exposed to acetaminophen prenatally were more likely to have asthma symptoms at age 5. This was the first study to demonstrate a direct link between asthma and an ability to detoxify foreign substances in the body.

EPA and NASA Administrators Extend Environmental and Earth Science Partnership

On April 26, 2010, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden joined forces at the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science to stress the importance of science and engineering education. The administrators chose the Howard University Middle School to underscore the importance of promoting math and sciences among the next generation of leaders.

At the event, the administrators also signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to foster cooperation between the two agencies in environmental and earth sciences and applications. As two science leaders in government, both administrators challenged the students to continue a pursuit of science and excellence.

The signed MOA promotes renewed efforts of collaboration between EPA and NASA to improve environmental and earth science research; technology; environmental management; and the application of earth science data, models, and technology in environmental decision- making. Areas of applied research and applications expected to benefit from this partnership include climate change, air quality and water. The re-invigorated partnership focuses on science leadership to motivate continued exploration, innovation, and protection of our home planet.

For more information on EPA’s Earth Observations and Advanced Monitoring Initiative, visit www.epa.gov/geoss/

Sharing EPA Science

EPA joined 500 science and research organizations at the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

EPA scientists and engineers shared their work with students and families from across the country at the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival held October 23-24, 2010, on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  

The activities associated with the festival began with inspirational talks by "Nifty Fifty" science ambassadors, including EPA's Dr. Paul Anastas (Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development) and Dr. Kevin Teichman (Deputy Administrator for Science, Office of Research and Development) who visited two schools in the Washington, DC, area to share their love of science and inspire the next generation of innovators. Nifty Fifty scientists were carefully chosen from hundreds of applicants for their differing fields, talents, divergent backgrounds and ages, and ability to convey the importance of science to students.

The month-long celebration culminated with the 2-day festival expo on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The expo featured more than 1,500 interactive stations from more than 500 of the country’s top science and engineering organizations, including EPA. The EPA exhibit featured activities that demonstrated the kinds of research that Agency scientists are conducting across the country and highlighted what that research meant for the protection of public health and the environment.

Innovative Modeling Tools Help EPA Scientists Determine Total Chemical Exposures

Using sophisticated new computer models and methods, EPA scientists developed an innovative set of tools to estimate total exposures and risks people face from chemicals encountered in everyday activities, actions as simple as biting into an apple or walking across a carpet.

The development of these new tools involved linking two types of models the Stochastic Human Exposure and Dose Simulation (SHEDS) model and physiologically- based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models. The SHEDS model can estimate the range of total chemical exposures in a population from different exposure pathways (such as inhalation) over different time periods, given a set of demographic characteristics. PBPK models predict how chemicals move through and concentrate in the human body.

Combining these models, EPA researchers created a first-of-its-kind set of tools that scientists can employ to estimate the total exposures and resultant doses that humans experience from chemicals in their environments.

The tools represent a breakthrough in risk management. Now, instead of examining a single route of exposure, scientists can look at the comprehensive exposure "picture" in a given population, which will prove helpful as EPA studies the risks posed by chemicals such as pyrethroid-based pesticides. These models will serve as invaluable tools in supporting decisions and actions to protect human health and the environment from the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.