Land and Waste Management Research Milestones
2023-Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Food Waste
ver one-third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten, wasting the resources used to produce, transport, process, and distribute it – and much of it is sent to landfills, where it breaks down and generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. EPA released two new reports quantifying methane emissions from landfilled food waste and updating recommendations for managing wasted food, which provide a better understanding of the net environmental footprint of U.S. food waste and provide the scientific foundation for EPA efforts to reduce it.
2023-Plastics Management Research
EPA researchers used experimental and modeling approaches to evaluate economic strategies for post-consumer plastics, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, that are widely used in packaging and then quickly discarded. Current approaches to produce, use, and dispose of plastics fail to capture the economic benefits of a more 'circular' methods and are harmful to the environment. EPA's study evaluated the current systems and technologies for plastic recycling, life-cycle evidence for eco-efficiency of plastic recycling, environmental impacts, and sustainability issues. This information will be used to determine the technical, infrastructure, economic, and standards barriers for recycling, reuse, and conversion to value-added products that capture the full economic value for sustainable management of plastic materials.
2022- New Ways to Identify Lead Exposure Hotspots
EPA scientists and their colleagues recently concluded a case study in Michigan—a state with robust blood lead level data and established state-federal partnerships—to develop new mapping tools to identify communities with high lead exposure risks.
2022- EPA Researchers Advance PFAS Destruction through PFAS Thermal Treatment Database
EPA released the PFAS Thermal Treatment Database in February 2022. This database provides an online resource that contains more than 2,000 records from 80 different sources about the treatability of PFAS using different thermal processes.
2022- EPA research gets the lead out!
EPA researchers delivered critical research results to advance the Agency's commitment to eliminate lead poising and reduce exposures, particularly in communities with environmental justice concerns.
2021 - EPA Develops Community-focused Restoration Website
EPA developed a website for those who enjoy Pickle Pond in Superior, Wisconsin to share how they use the pond. The website is part of an effort by our researchers, in collaboration with the state of Wisconsin and BNSF railway to clean up contaminated sediments and restore fish and wildlife habitat at Pickle Pond.
2020 - EPA’s Mapping Tool Protects Groundwater from Contamination
EPA researchers developed the UST Finder, the first-ever national database and web mapping tool for underground storage tanks (UST) to help protect groundwater from potential contamination. The tool provides a comprehensive picture of the physical attributes and locations of active, closed, and known leaking USTs, and related facilities—helping protect local drinking water sources and advancing cleanup, monitoring, and assessment activities.
2018 – EPA Launches the PVIScreen Model
EPA’s PVIScreen Model helps provide evidence for the occurrence of petroleum vapor intrusion (PVI). PVIScreen automatically conducts an uncertainty analysis, which repeatedly runs the model with differing values of site-specific factors.
EPA conducts applied research using numerous innovative techniques to clean up contamination from soil and groundwater to protect and restore subsurface environments. Most of these techniques involve speeding up the rates of in-situ chemical reactions and all involve monitoring changes in chemical concentrations at depth. The work is done in cooperation with EPA’s Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, other federal partners, and states.
2017 – EPA Provides Guidance on Technology Used for Volatile Organic Compounds
EPA publishes a report that provides guidance for In Situ Chemical Oxidation technology used to remediate contaminated groundwater. The guidance focuses on volatile organic compounds such as perchloroethylene, a chlorinated solvent used in dry cleaner operations.
2017 – EPA Releases a 25-Year Update on Liners Used in Landfills
EPA releases a 25-year update on evaluation of performance of hazardous waste systems, quantifying the field performance of engineered containment systems, based on data from hazardous waste landfills (Subtitle C) that are nearing completion of 30 years of post-closure care, and to “ground-truth” expected leachate generation rates and chemistry. The report helps researchers assess and update field performance of Subtitle C landfills.
2000 - EPA Establishes the Ecological Risk Assessment Support Center
EPA’s Ecological Risk Assessment Support Center provides technical information and addresses scientific questions of concern or interest on topics relevant to ecological risk assessment at hazardous waste sites.
1998 –EPA Provides Technical Support to the Superfund Program
EPA develops Provisional Peer-Reviewed Toxicity Values assessments to support a growing need for toxicity values for the Superfund Program. The Agency also establishes the Superfund Health Risk Technical Support Center to provide human health risk assessment assistance to the program.
1980 – EPA Grounds the Superfund Program in Science
Congress passes legislation authorizing EPA to identify parties responsible for contamination of sites and compel the parties to clean up the sites. EPA science contributes to the implementation of the new Superfund Program created by Congress. The initial program designated $1 billion for cleanup efforts while holding polluters responsible for cleaning up most hazardous waste sites.
Residents of Love Canal, NY, discover that their community is contaminated by buried leaking chemical containers. The pollution is linked to serious health threats such as cancer and birth defects. President Carter declares an emergency, authorizing EPA to help temporarily relocate about 700 families. EPA researchers conduct the most comprehensive multimedia monitoring study for a hazardous waste site at the time in response to a presidential state of emergency order.