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EPA Mid-Atlantic Celebrates 50 Years of Research for a Healthier Environment

08/10/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Region 3 Press Office (R3press@epa.gov)

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 10, 2020) — As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a month-long observance of its progress in conducting innovative research to protect human health and the environment.

“From the very beginning 50 years ago, the agency has been guided by scientific research,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “EPA research has provided the tools, data and knowledge needed to tackle the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges and built a firm foundation for decisions and policies that have protected the health of the American people.”

EPA’s Office of Research and Development is an integral part of the agency’s efforts to address current concerns. For example:

Evaluating SARS-CoV-2 in the Environment.

  • EPA researchers are working on several efforts related to SARS-CoV-2 in the environment. Researchers at EPA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are collaborating to develop and apply methods for measuring SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater. EPA researchers are also working with CDC to develop a simple, low cost, non-invasive antibody test using saliva samples. EPA researchers are studying anti-microbial products and application methods for long-lasting disinfection, as well as ways to disinfect large spaces. Additionally, researchers are evaluating methods of disinfecting personal protective equipment (PPE).

Researching chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

  • EPA is leading the national effort to understand PFAS and reduce PFAS risks to the public through implementation of its PFAS Action Plan and through active engagement and partnership with other federal agencies, states, tribes, industry groups, associations, local communities and the public. EPA researchers are developing methods to detect and quantify PFAS in environmental media; gathering and assessing data on chemical toxicity; and evaluating the effectiveness and the cost of different technologies for treating, removing and disposing of PFAS in drinking water and contaminated sites.

In recent years, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office has partnered with other governmental and non-governmental organizations to conduct many critical environmental and public health research efforts including:

  • Integrating environmental services like flood control and stream bank retention into environmental decision making to develop a better understanding of how changes in the environment effect public health, local economies and quality of life.
  • Monitoring the migration of radionucleides in a freshwater environment and its implications for water utilities.
  • Assessing the impacts of federal, state and local decision-making on public health to reduce the disproportionate impacts to overburdened communities.
  • Using data more efficiently in decision making in order to make visible differences in communities.
  • Hydro-acoustically surveying submerged aquatic vegetation to establish a baseline in the Delaware Estuary.
  • Identifying best management practices for controlling stormwater and limiting runoff pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment.
  • Predicting risks of radon in source waters from water quality parameters.
  • Tracking Cryptosporidium emanating from source waters impacting the Potomac River.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of restored wetlands for managing agricultural runoff.
  • Developing a new fence-line monitoring approach for refineries that offers compact, portable measurements that require no electricity and are easy to deploy and maintain.
  • Forecasting development and related water quality impacts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  • Evaluating the potential impacts of surface mining on instream aquatic resources.
  • Assessing risks to habitat and biodiversity in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania.

Today, EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region continues to be at the forefront of investigating new environmental challenges, including:

  • Establishing a baseline for the Delaware Estuary’s nutrient concentrations and buffering capabilities and creating the first biological index for the tidal portion of the estuary.
  • Engineering poultry litter biochar to capture phosphorus, improve soil management and protect water quality.
  • Assessing current methods of extracting and isolating microplastics from sediment and conducting a multiregional survey of microplastics in estuarine and marine sediments.
  • Developing environmental DNA sampling and assessment techniques for warmwater fish assemblages and freshwater mussels in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
  • Identifying and addressing issues relating to lead in urban soils.

“For a half-century, EPA researchers have been at the forefront of environmental science,” said Dave Campbell, Director of the EPA Mid-Atlantic Laboratory Services and Applied Science Division. “Strong science informs all of EPA’s actions to safeguard human health and ecosystems from pollutants.”

For more on EPA’s 50th anniversary, https://www.epa.gov/50

For more on the impacts of the Agency’s cutting-edge research, visit: https://www.epa.gov/research/history-epa-research

Follow EPA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on social media using #EPAat50

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