The following stories highlight a few examples of how EPA data can be used. EPA data is used constantly inside and outside the agency for research on some of today’s most pressing environmental topics. Learn about some ways others have used EPA data and how you can use data to answer your own questions. Jump to the stories below:
- Pollution Prevention Works: A Storytelling Challenge for Students
- Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Water and Wastewater: A Critical Review of Their Global Occurrence and Distribution
- Climate Change and Children’s Health and Well-Being in the United States Report
- Climate Change and Environmental Justice on Air Quality: Women in Data Science Datathon
In response to a storytelling challenge by EPA, Athitiya Singhapan, a student at Michael E. Debakey High School for Health Professions, created a video that illustrates Pollution Prevention (P2) practices used at the Danone Milk Making Facility in Fort Worth, Texas to reduce the use of nitric acid. Athitiya accessed EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory P2 Search Tool and TRI Toxics Tracker to find information related to the facility’s toxic chemical waste management and P2 practices. Compared to other facilities, Athitiya found that Danone’s practices helped the people and environment around the facility. Watch the winning video.
The winning submission was created solely by the student in the Storytelling Challenge. The findings and views expressed in the submission are solely those of the student, and not of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Mention of a facility, company, or product in the submission does not represent an endorsement by the EPA.
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Water and Wastewater: A Critical Review of Their Global Occurrence and Distribution
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances are a family of organic compounds that have been classified as persistent organic pollutants of concern. Significant scientific evidence has suggested the widespread occurrence of PFAS in nature can result in human health and natural impacts. Data related to PFAs spread over the past decade were combined to inform this report.
One notable data source for the report comes from EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule program. Every five years, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to publish a list of 30 contaminants that are currently not regulated but are known or most likely to occur in public water systems. Research on EPA UCMR 3 Program data showed a strong link between the PFAS levels in public water systems and how close they were to sites where PFAS are used or made, the number of nearby military fire training areas, and the number of wastewater treatment plants in the area.
Learn more about the methods, conclusions, and the PFAS data available from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Water and Wastewater: A Critical Review of Their Global Occurrence and Distribution.
A 2023 EPA report on how climate change can affect the health of children (ages 0-17) in the U.S. combines data and research from multiple sectors to quantify those effects linked to extreme heat, air quality, changing seasons, flooding, and infectious diseases.
The report notes four key impacts:
- Reductions in academic achievement. Warmer temperatures influenced by climate change are related to reductions in children’s academic achievement, mostly in areas with lower rates of air conditioning in homes and schools. These losses can affect the potential future income of graduating students, maybe reaching billions of dollars across each cohort.
- Higher rates of asthma and other respiratory effects. Climate change is expected to worsen air pollution and lengthen the pollen season, leading to increased cases of asthma and other respiratory conditions like bronchitis and seasonal allergies, as well as more serious symptoms among children.
- Displacement from flooding. If no additional measures are taken, more than one million children may suffer short-term home displacement from coastal flooding at even moderate levels of sea level rise. More than a million children may face permanent home loss at higher levels of sea level rise.
- Increase in vector-borne diseases in children. Warmer temperatures and increased humidity will expand the extent and spread of vector-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Where possible, the report studies how overburdened populations may experience higher risks from the adverse effects of climate change.
View the full report and dig into the data used to quantify these effects on the Climate Change and Children’s Health and Well-Being in the United States Report site. The data used are all published in scientific reports by EPA authors and other researchers. EJScreen can be used to interact with data for climate stressors on vulnerable populations.
Women in Data Science reached out to EPA to inquire about air quality data that could be used to understand climate change and Environmental Justice impacts during their annual WiDS Datathon in 2022. Working with EPA staff, WiDS was able to find those data and analyze them during their datathon’s Excellence in Research Award to great success.
Brett Gantt of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards worked with Sharada Kalanidhi, a data scientist at Stanford University and co-chair of the WiDS Datathon, to find available datasets for use during a research phase of the WiDS Datathon. Sharada ended up selecting Air Quality Statistics Reports for the datathon. Brett queried the Air Quality System for all sites that include both PM2.5 (particulate matter at 2.5 micrometers) and O3 (ozone) monitors and downloaded all daily averages where PM2.5 and O3 were both available in 2019 and 2020. He joined these data with daily average NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), CO (carbon monoxide), SO2 (sulfur dioxide), Pb (lead), benzene, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and wind direction when available and supplied those data to WiDS for the datathon
With those air pollution data, datathon participants were able to run tests and conduct research on the effects of climate change in EJ communities. WiDS awarded several participants for their research on the topic during the datathon and Brett was glad to be able to support the use of EPA’s AQS data.