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EPA Science Matters Newsletter

EPA's Science Matters newsletter delivers the latest from EPA's Office of Research and Development straight to your inbox. Keep scrolling to read recent stories. Sign up to receive the newsletter.


Constellation of geostationary air quality satellites in the northern hemisphere, along with European Space Agency Sentinel 5P TROPOMI polar orbiting satellite. Image: NASA LaRTEMPO: A New Era of Air Quality Monitoring from Space

May 19, 2020 - Satellites are increasingly being used to monitor air quality and the movement of pollution in the air we breathe. EPA researchers are working with partners to use satellites to examine air quality across North America. The project will allow researchers to observe pollutant emissions and see how pollution episodes evolve over hours, days, and weeks, interacting with weather patterns as they move across urban environments.  Read TEMPO: A New Era of Air Quality Monitoring from Space.


An educational air quality monitoring device designed to look like a birdhouse and powered by solar panels.Researchers Assess Roadside Vegetation Barriers with a Suite of Air Monitors

May 19, 2020 - EPA researchers are using innovative air monitoring approaches to learn more about how solid and vegetation barriers reduce exposure to harmful roadside air pollution. The work could benefit the health of millions of Americans who live, work, and go to school near major highways or other transportation facilities such as airports or rail yards.  Read Researchers Assess Roadside Vegetation Barriers with a Suite of Air Monitors.


Dr. Qingzhi Zhu of Stony Brook University and the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology in Stony Brook, N.Y.Supporting Innovations to Reduce Nitrogen Pollution from Septic Systems

May 19, 2020 - In some marine communities on the East Coast, conventional septic systems are not designed to treat nitrogen at levels protective of local water quality and the coastal environment. The winner of EPA’s Advanced Septic System Nitrogen Sensor Challenge designed a low-cost nitrogen sensor that shows great promise in helping address excess nitrogen and protecting the marine environment. Read Supporting Innovations to Reduce Nitrogen Pollution from Septic Systems.


Understanding how fish navigate in rivers and streams is vital to the management of important keystone species like salmon. From Anderson Valley Advertiser. Photo by Annie Kalantarian.Swimming Upstream: Research to Protect Salmon Habitat in the Columbia River

May 19, 2020 - Understanding how fish navigate in rivers and streams is vital to the management of important keystone species like salmon. EPA scientists in Corvallis, Oregon, are creating detailed digital models of local river systems and tracking populations of salmon and steelhead as they migrate upstream. This research is shared with states, tribes, and university scientists to help develop management strategies for these fish species. Read Swimming Upstream: Research to Protect Salmon Habitat in the Columbia River.


SARS- Cov-2EPA Researchers Are Evaluating SARS-CoV-2 in the Environment

May 6, 2020 - Reducing the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 relies on effective cleaning and disinfection, along with public health strategies like testing and social distancing. EPA researchers are assessing the use of EPA-approved disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces and objects that are difficult to disinfect, like fabric and other soft or porous materials. This research will help states, tribes, local, and territorial governments, and can also guide homeowners, business owners, and others to reduce their risk of exposure. Read EPA Researchers Are Evaluating SARS-CoV-2 in the Environment. 


air sensorStudy Explores Ways to Improve Accuracy of Air Sensors

May 6, 2020 - Researchers and the public are using air sensors to fill the gaps in understanding local air quality. Despite the opportunities these air sensors provide to measure air pollutants, questions regarding their operations and performance capabilities remain. EPA scientists are working to improve the accuracy of sensors by generating mathematical equations to ‘correct’ the sensor data. Read Study Explores Ways to Improve Accuracy of Air Sensors.


hugging a treeThrowing Shade: Exploring the Benefits of Trees

May 6, 2020 - Arbor Day is devoted to recognizing the aesthetic and ecological value of trees. EPA researchers are adding scientific rigor to help us better understand the true value of trees. Read Throwing Shade: Exploring the Benefits of Trees.


human heart and torsoMay 28 Webinar on Air Quality and Healthy Hearts: Progress and Remaining Challenges

May 6, 2020 - Research shows that exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is associated with adverse cardiovascular health events―particularly among those with pre-existing conditions. Join our May 28 webinar that will highlight EPA research and new findings on the impacts of air pollution on the cardiovascular system. Read May 28 Webinar on Air Quality and Healthy Hearts: Progress and Remaining Challenges.


a few EPA researchers50 Years of Earth Day with EPA Researchers

April 20, 2020 - Need some Earth Day inspiration? EPAers discussed why they dedicated their careers to protecting the environment and how they are safely celebrating Earth Day this year. Read 50 Years of Earth Day with EPA Researchers.


Goats grazingCelebrating 50 Years of Earth Day through Greening EPA Facilities

April 21, 2020 - Earth Day is an opportunity to think of ways we can protect the environment. As part of that effort, EPA labs and facilities are implementing a range of strategies to reduce their environmental impacts, from improving energy conservation to planting pollinator gardens. Learn about some of these initiatives at EPA labs and facilities around the country. Read Celebrating 50 Years of Earth Day through Greening EPA Facilities.


Women of EPACelebrating Women's History Month

March 25, 2020 - March is Women's History Month.  Some of EPA’s amazing women currently working to protect human health and the environment shared their advice and lessons learned. Read Celebrating Women's History Month.

Robot ArmEPA is Moving Towards the Future of Chemical Assessments with New Approach Methods

March 31, 2020 - EPA scientists are continuing to advance chemical safety research with the use of New Approach Methods. These methods provide information on chemical hazard and risk assessment while avoiding the use of animals. EPA is committed to drastically reducing the use of animals in chemical testing while still fulfilling its mission to protect human health and the environment. Read EPA is Moving Towards the Future of Chemical Assessments with New Approach Methods.


Graphic for toolThe Species Sensitivity Distribution Toolbox: A New Tool to Identify and Protect Vulnerable Species

March 17, 2020 - EPA scientists have developed the Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD) Toolbox to help assessors determine potential risks from chemical exposure. The tool considers the range of sensitivities among different organisms and makes for quicker, more consistent statistical analyses to identify chemical concentrations in surface waters that may harm the most vulnerable affected species. Read The Species Sensitivity Distribution Toolbox: A New Tool to Identify and Protect Vulnerable Species.


An example of permeable pavementUsing Cost-Effective Tools for Assessment of Infiltration at Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Sites

Green Infrastructure can help manage the stress of excess stormwater on water treatment systems in urban areas. EPA researchers are working with communities in Kansas and Connecticut to test devices that track stormwater through soil. This work will provide a better understanding of the life-cycle costs and performance of green infrastructure. Read Using Cost-Effective Tools for Assessment of Infiltration at Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management Sites.


Inside the lead service line pipesEPA Researchers Help Water Systems Keep Lead out of Drinking Water

If a system has lead service lines, limiting corrosion is a necessary step to reduce lead exposure from drinking water. EPA and others use predictive solubility models to try and help drinking water systems pick the right corrosion control treatment that fits their system’s individual needs. EPA researchers recently looked at how well these models were predicting what is happening in the real world. Read EPA Researchers Help Water Systems Keep Lead out of Drinking Water.


The 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire. In the late 1960s, degraded water quality became a huge concern when photos of the Cuyahoga River on fire were published.Putting out the Fire: 50 Years of Science to Protect America’s Water

Over the past 50 years, EPA research has played a key role in protecting America's waters. Learn how EPA researchers helped the Agency extinguish an era marked by burning rivers and how they continue to tackle complex challenges to our water resources today. Read Putting out the Fire: 50 Years of Science to Protect America’s Water


smog over LAStudy Examines if Long-Term Exposure to Ozone Impacts the Cardiovascular System

Extensive scientific evidence has documented ozone’s effects on the lungs—but does ozone exposure have an impact on the heart and vascular system as well? An EPA-supported study, called MESA Air Next Stage, looks at the relationship between ground level ozone and the changes over time in the health of arteries that feed both the brain and heart. Read Study Examines if Long-Term Exposure to Ozone Impacts the Cardiovascular System.


 Students participate in a lesson that explores connections between ecosystems and human health.STEM Outreach Provides Opportunities for Students and Teachers

Many EPA researchers credit their teachers with inspiring their love of science and engineering. Today, our researchers are passing this along to the next generation through a variety of outreach activities with teachers and students of all ages. Read STEM Outreach Provides Opportunities for Students and Teachers.


Cincinnati EPA Researchers Partner with Cincinnati’s Cooper Creek Collaborative to Improve Water Quality

Impervious surfaces, like most buildings and pavement, can’t absorb rain water as well as forests and other natural environments. This can create water quality issues for many urban areas due to stormwater runoff. To help with this issue, EPA researchers in Cincinnati, Ohio are partnering with local organizations and other federal agencies to retrofit urban stormwater infrastructure networks with technology to improve water quality and moderate flows in the Cooper Creek Watershed. Read the article EPA Researchers Partner with Cincinnati’s Cooper Creek Collaborative to Improve Water Quality.


EPA 50th anniversary imageEPA Science at 50: Progress for a Stronger Future

This year marks EPA’s 50th Anniversary. Science has played an integral part in the agency’s many successes in advancing its mission to protect public health and safeguard the natural environment. Read EPA Science at 50: Progress for a Stronger Future


The cover of the federal lead action plan report featuring a picture of kids, a picture of a lead warning sign, and a picture of an old shed with chipping paintA Year in Review: Progress on the Research Goal of the Federal Lead Action Plan

EPA researchers have been working on various aspects of lead research to support the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. As part of this work, researchers are using a range of scientific data and tools to better understand the key drivers of blood lead levels and reduce childhood lead exposures. Read A Year in Review: Progress on the Research Goal of the Federal Lead Action Plan


Someone fills a glass with tap waterEPA Researchers Investigate the Effectiveness of Systems to Remove Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances from Drinking Water

EPA is making extensive efforts to help communities address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. As part of this work, EPA researchers tested several off-the-shelf, commercially available technologies to determine the products’ capability of decreasing PFAS levels in drinking water. Read EPA Researchers Investigate the Effectiveness of Point‐of‐use/Point‐of‐entry Systems to Remove Per‐ and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances from Drinking Water.


EPA's Amara Holder testing air cleaners in the lab.Understanding Indoor Air Quality During Wildfires

After wildfire smoke impacted the city of Missoula, Montana in the summer of 2017, the local health department was inundated with inquiries about the risks of smoke, actions to take, and how to create clean air spaces indoors. As a result, the Missoula Health Department teamed up with EPA researchers to place low-cost air sensors throughout the city to learn more about how air cleaning and ventilation practices impact indoor air quality during wildfire events. EPA is also evaluating the effectiveness of portable air cleaners and air filtration systems under simulated pollution levels found during wildfires. Read Understanding Indoor Air Quality During Wildfires.


smoke senseSmoke Sense Adds Spanish-Speaking Version to Reach Those Impacted by Wildfire Smoke

EPA is conducting a research project called Smoke Sense to understand the health effects of wildland fire smoke and identify effective risk communication strategies. Citizen scientists can participate in the research using a mobile application—the Smoke Sense App. This year, a Spanish version has been added. Read Smoke Sense Adds Spanish-Speaking Version to Reach Those Impacted by Wildfire Smoke


Sampling of a biological contaminant in subway systemImproving Preparedness, Response, and Recovery to Lessen the Impacts of Biological Incidents in Underground Transportation System

It’s important to be able to immediately respond to a chemical or biological incident in a transportation hub, like a subway system. EPA researchers collaborated with the Department of Homeland Security to prepare our nation for this type of attack. This research identified specific tools and tactics for remediation of a subway system after contamination with anthrax and provided information on the cost and magnitude of such a response. Read Improving Preparedness, Response, and Recovery to Lessen the Impacts of Biological Incidents in Underground Transportation System


Dog sniffs samplesDogs May Teach Us How to Detect Cancer Earlier

EPA scientists explore exhaled breath aerosol samples to get clues for pre-clinical cancer screening. Read Dogs May Teach Us How to Detect Cancer Earlier. 


EPA Continues to Update its Environmental Sampling & Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

EPA helps the United States prepare for and respond to environmental disasters involving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear substances. As part of this effort, EPA researchers developed the Environmental Sampling & Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program, a one-stop resource for field-and-laboratory-ready documents and web-based tools to support the remediation of a contaminated site. Read EPA Continues to Update its Environmental Sampling & Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program


Dr. Ian Gilmour conducting an experiment using the tube furnace located at an EPA laboratory in Research Triangle Park, Noth Carolina. Advancing Technology to Study the Toxicity of Wildfire Smoke

Exposure to smoke can cause acute and chronic health impacts, although it is not clear if some types of smoke are worse than others. EPA researchers built a tube furnace system to generate different types of smoke to assess how fuel composition and combustion conditions affect the chemistry and subsequent toxicity of biomass smoke. The findings will help researchers more accurately assess the hazard of smoke exposure to firefighters, as well as people living in communities near or downwind of wildfires. Read Advancing Technology to Study the Toxicity of Wildfire Smoke.


The tox 21 robot arm tests chemicals EPA Leads International Case Study to Reduce Animal Testing for Chemical Safety

EPA is prioritizing efforts to reduce, refine, and replace animal testing in chemical safety research. EPA researchers identified an innovative approach to rapidly screen chemicals for biological impacts using new “in vitro,” or “in test-tube” methods. Read EPA Leads International Case Study to Reduce Animal Testing for Chemical Safety.


SeqAPASS Version 4.0 Adds New Interactive Help Menus and Interoperability with Other Online EPA Tools

Wondering how chemicals affect different species? Check out version 4.0 of EPA’s Sequence Alignment to Predict Across Species Susceptibility (SeqAPASS) tool, a publicly available online tool that uses protein sequences to help understand how chemicals will affect different species. The latest version includes interactive help menus and guidance for setting up appropriate protein comparisons. Read SeqAPASS Version 4.0 Adds New Interactive Help Menus and Interoperability with Other Online EPA Tools


steve ehrler and his dog tend to the farmNutrient Sensor Action Challenge Winners: Data and Decisions to Manage Excess Nutrients 

Excess nutrients are one of our country’s most widespread and challenging water quality problems. EPA and partners are focused on improving nutrient management by incentivizing the development of low-cost technology solutions such as nutrient sensors. Read Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge Winners: Data and Decisions to Manage Excess Nutrients.


EPA Researchers Evaluate Procedures to More Effectively Manage Clean-up Following Pesticide Misuse Incidents

It’s important to always follow the instructions on labels when applying pesticides. Misusing pesticides can result in indoor contamination which may harm the health of users and require special clean-up. EPA researchers evaluated procedures to more effectively manage clean-up when pesticides are used incorrectly. Read EPA Researchers Evaluate Procedures to More Effectively Manage Clean-up Following Pesticide Misuse Incidents.


EPA Researchers Help Prepare Drinking Water Utilities for Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can disrupt access to clean drinking water. To help communities and drinking water utilities, EPA researchers and partners from the Sandia National Laboratories developed the Water Network Tool for Resilience (WNTR), a comprehensive scientific software package to help assess the resilience of drinking water systems to natural disasters. Read EPA Researchers Help Prepare Drinking Water Utilities for Natural Disasters.


a 3-d printer at workKeeping up with 3D Printing: EPA Researchers Build on New Plastic Emissions Study

Common 3D printer ink, or filament, can emit gases during the printing phase that may pose a health risk to users and bystanders. EPA researchers studied VOC emissions from carbon nanotubes filaments under a variety of conditions to simulate the different heating, melting, and forming of plastics that can occur during 3D printing. This research can lead to printer designs that limit these emissions and recommended printing locations that limit exposure to users. Read Keeping up with 3D Printing: EPA Researchers Build on New Plastic Emissions Study.


The Woolsey Fire, California. (Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann)Wildfires: How Do They Affect Our Water Supplies?

Just as wildfires impact air quality, they can also affect the quantity and quality of water. EPA researchers are examining pre- and post-wildfire data on streams in the western United States to understand how wildfires change the daily flow of sediment and water in streams. This research will help protect water supplies from wildfires. Read Wildfires: How Do They Affect Our Water Supplies? 


The Kolibri air sensor, a lightweight sampler developed by EPA researchers, samples chemical, particle, and biological pollutants as it is carried through smoke in an unmanned aircraft system.Studies Advance Air Monitoring During Wildfires and Improve Forecasting of Smoke

EPA researchers are tackling smoke issues from wildfires. Researchers are driving mobile laboratories to wildfires as they occur in the Northwest. Their research will improve the ability to predict smoke from both wildfires and prescribed burns and determine what air monitors are best for measuring smoke from wildfires. Read Studies Advance Air Monitoring During Wildfires and Improve Forecasting of Smoke.


One of the many low cost air sensor packages that will be stationed around Phoenix, Arizona as part of the EPA study.EPA Scientists Evaluate Low-Cost Air Sensors in Phoenix, Arizona

How reliable is data coming from low-cost air sensors? EPA is working with states, and local agencies such as the Maricopa County Air Quality Department in Phoenix, Arizona, to evaluate the ability of certain low-cost sensors to monitor pollutants under different environmental conditions. Learn more. 


A cyanobacteria harmful algal bloom in Lake Hersha, Ohio.CyAN Mobile App Helps Communities Detect Cyanobacteria in U.S. Water Bodies

The most effective way of protecting public health from harmful algal blooms is avoiding water containing cyanobacteria. That’s why EPA developed the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network mobile app, an early warning indicator system for algal blooms in U.S. freshwater systems, which will allow local water quality managers to proactively plan for cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms in their communities. Learn more. 


Firefighter fighting a fireBlowing Smoke: What Can Firefighters’ Breath Reveal About Chemical Exposure During a Fire?

EPA researchers are working to better understand firefighters’ chemical exposure and protect their health. As part of a collaborative study with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, researchers analyzed firefighters’ breath samples to assess their exposure to volatile organic compounds. Learn more. 


The different pollen colors come from a variety of plant species. Learn about some of EPA's research to protect pollinators below. Photo Credit: EPA's Bonnie Smith. Protecting Pollinators

The most recognized pollinators, honey bees, have experienced a decline in the U.S. and many other countries. EPA researchers are developing methods, tools, and models to better understand the effects of pesticides on bees. Learn more.


Andrea Clements demonstrates the sensorStudy Assesses Long-Term Capabilities of Air Sensors 

There are still many uncertainties about the operating and performance capabilities of low-cost air sensors. This summer, EPA begins the Long-Term Performance Project to tackle questions about long-term use of air sensors, and their performance and capabilities. Researchers will evaluate six models of commercial air sensors, placing them in seven locations with diverse climates and air quality conditions across the country. Learn more.


Minebank Run in Baltimore; pre and post restoration from the same perspectiveEPA Stream Restoration Research Supports Chesapeake Bay Recovery

Fifty-one billion gallons of water flow into Chesapeake Bay on a daily basis, sometimes picking up harmful contaminants along the way. Natural habitats can act as a filter for the watershed, which is why several communities around the Chesapeake Bay are restoring local streams to a more natural-like state. EPA stream restoration research is providing the science needed to continue to protect and restore the nation’s largest estuary. Learn more.


piles of food waste waiting to be sorted into the composterA Winning Formula: Making Connections to Turn Food Waste into Energy 

Food waste is the single largest component of our daily trash, adding up to 133 billion pounds of food at the retail and consumer levels in the United States that go uneaten. EPA is addressing this issue through the interactive Excess Food Opportunities Map, which identifies and displays information about potential generators and recipients of excess food. The map inspired Brett Reinford, a second-generation farmer in Pennsylvania, to build a digester for his family farm that turns waste into energy.  Learn more. 


the Newport News group helping with an environmental health assessmentEPA Researchers Share Lessons Learned from Citizen Science Research Projects

Environmental Health Assessments (EHAs) are used to better understand the range of possible effects of environmental factors on a community’s health and wellbeing. These assessments are even more effective when researchers involve the community through citizen science. Using decades of experience conducting citizen science-based EHAs, EPA scientists have recently published paper on advice and frequently asked questions to help other communities conduct these assessments. Learn more. 


Update to Chemical Dashboard Adds Wealth of Chemical and Biological Data and Improves User Interface

EPA’s Computational Toxicology Chemicals Dashboard is a one-stop-shop for chemistry, toxicity, exposure, and bioactivity data on thousands of chemicals. EPA scientists have recently released an update to the online Dashboard. The latest version adds 110,000 chemicals and associated data, bringing the total number of chemicals to 875,000. Learn more. 


Protecting Communities with Safe, Sustainable Materials Management

One of EPA’s priorities is advancing sustainable materials management practices. The management of construction and demolition debris presents a significant opportunity in terms of economic and environmental benefits. Learn more. 


Workshop on Performance Targets for Low-Cost Air Sensors Scheduled for July 16

While the development and use of low-cost air sensors is on the rise, certification standards for these devises do not exist. EPA is conducting a workshop on July 16 to obtain a variety of viewpoints on the establishment of non-regulatory performance targets for four regulated air pollutants. Learn more. 


Village Green Station BenchVillage Green Project Air Monitoring Stations A Success

After more than five successful years, EPA is concluding its work on the Village Green project. The Village Green project was an innovative community-based research effort to demonstrate near real-time air monitoring technology, engage the public in learning about local air quality, and collect high-quality data for research. All of the eight stations except the Durham, North Carolina station, have been released to community partners to operate. Learn more. 


A doctor holds a heart graphic in their handResearch on the Impact of Diet on Cardiovascular Responses to Air Pollution

Every day, our choices can have an effect on the internal processes that maintain normal function in our bodies. EPA research is exploring how diet, which can influence physiology and health in both overt and subtle ways, can shape our body’s response to air pollution. Learn more.


EPA’s Office of Research and Development Reorganizes to Better Support EPA’s Mission

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) recently announced plans to reorganize. The proposed structural changes will increase the impact of ORD’s research efforts and better address the increasingly complex environmental challenges of the 21st century. Learn more.


Pipe rigScaling Back: EPA Researchers Help Communities Protect Drinking Water Systems from Lead

Lead in drinking water poses major health risks. EPA researchers are leading research to better understand the dynamics of water chemistry, treatment, and infrastructure to help facility managers and local communities keep lead out of drinking water. Learn more. 


enviroatlas mapEPA’s EnviroAtlas Publishes Data on Three New Urban Areas, Including Philadelphia and Salt Lake City

EPA’s EnviroAtlas uses maps and data to help communities understand the relationship between nature, health, well-being, and the economy. Researchers have added fine-scale data and maps for three new urban areas to EnviroAtlas, in addition to the 24 U.S. urban areas already included. The new featured areas, Philadelphia, PA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Sonoma County, CA, collectively include over 300 cities and towns not previously covered. Learn more.


citizen scientists test water qualityNew EPA Citizen Science Quality Assurance Handbook Provides Best Practices for Citizen Science Projects

Using new technologies, it is easier than ever to collect, analyze, and report environmental data. To help citizen scientists improve data quality, EPA has created a new Quality Assurance handbook to be used with accompanying templates and examples for citizen science. These documents provide best practices for citizen science organizations on how to document quality assurance for citizen science projects. Learn more.


Durham skylineGoing Back to our Roots: EPA Researchers Help the City of Durham, North Carolina Site New Trees

Nearly a century ago, the City of Durham, North Carolina went on a tree planting spree—but now the trees are approaching the end of their lifespans. As part of a new tree planting initiative, the City asked EPA researchers to develop a plan that would prioritize where to place trees to maximize the benefits the trees would provide to the community. Learn more.


Do Dietary Supplements Protect Against the Harmful Effects of Air Pollution Exposure?

EPA researchers are evaluating whether dietary supplements can mitigate some of the adverse effects of ozone exposure. Ground-level ozone, one of the six criteria air pollutants that is regulated by the EPA, is a molecule known to cause a variety of adverse health effects at elevated concentrations. Learn more.


EPA Scientists Share Their Advances in Toxicology Research at the Society of Toxicology’s Annual Meeting

The meeting is an opportunity for leaders in the field to come together to share the latest advances in toxicology and collaborate on future projects. Learn more about the research EPA presented including models that look at chemical exposures, research findings on the health effects of smoke exposure, and more. 


Study Shows Possible Link Between Air Pollution and Higher Cholesterol Levels

According to the CDC, high cholesterol is a known risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks. EPA researchers are using new diagnostic technology and air quality modeling to better understand potential links between air quality and high cholesterol. The findings may support efforts to identify intervention strategies and assist decision makers with protecting the public from environmental risks. Learn more.


EPA and Partners Describe a Chemical Category Prioritization Approach to Select 75 PFAS for Testing using New Approach Methods

In collaboration with the National Toxicology Program, researchers used a chemical category prioritization approach to select 75 PFAS chemicals to begin testing using the new methods. The data gathered will help inform human health assessments. Learn more. 


Using EnviroAtlas to Empower Decision-Makers of Today and Tomorrow

This past June, EPA brought together teachers, researchers and staff for an environmental education workshop focused on EPA’s EnviroAtlas. EnviroAtlas is a web-based interactive mapping tool, containing hundreds of geospatial data layers, built-in analysis tools, and a wealth of other resources, that allows users to explore their surrounding environment. Check out our ready-made EnviroAtlas lesson plans for every grade level, from kindergarten through undergraduate. Learn more.


EPA Tools Help Local Decision-Makers Deal with Waste Resulting from Major Natural Disasters

Following a natural disaster, communities can face an unexpected challenge: what to do with the tons of waste and debris left behind. To help manage waste after disasters, EPA researchers and partners developed a suite of tools to assist in both urban and rural waste management planning and emergency response. Learn more.


Walking through a forest area burned over by the Pole Creek wildfire.Forecasting Smoke from Utah Wildfires to Protect Public Health

Wildfire smoke poses a threat to public health and safety. EPA researcher Gayle Hagler served as an Air Resource Advisor for Utah’s Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. Hagler created a daily “Smoke Outlook” to communicate information to the public about the fire conditions, meteorology, and predicted fine particulate matter levels in areas downwind of the wildfires. Learn more.


Caption: This image shows a microbe-free zebrafish colonized with fluorescent bacteria that prefer to colonize the host zebrafish intestinal tract (bacteria are shown in red). Normally, a diverse array of microbes colonize the zebrafish. This study shows New Research Shows that Exposure to Chemicals like BPA Disrupts Microbial Communities in Zebrafish

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. New research by EPA scientists shows that BPA and its most commonly-used alternatives disrupt microbial community structure in zebrafish. These dynamic communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and protozoa colonize the skin and gut of a host animal (including humans) and play important roles in health and disease. Learn more.


EPA’s new method allows scientists to mimic human decision-making for four behaviors (sleeping, eating, commuting and working) that might affect our exposure to chemicals.EPA Researchers use AI to Mimic Human Behaviors that Could Affect our Exposure to Chemicals

Where and how we spend our time plays a major role in the types of chemicals we’re exposed to each day. To better understand these exposures, EPA researchers have created a method that models human behaviors using artificial intelligence. This data is necessary to assess a chemical’s potential risk to human health. Learn more.


The site of the study in Brent, AlabamaUnderstanding Air Pollution in the Southeastern United States

During the summer of 2013, some 60 atmospheric scientists converged in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina to study everything they could about the physical and chemical interactions of many pollutants in the atmosphere. This collaborative field project, supported by EPA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation, generated more than 111 published papers, providing a wealth of data and findings that have been made available to the public and an improved understanding of aerosol processes in the southeastern U.S. Learn more.


EPA and Partners Bring Custom-Designed Cleaner-Burning Stoves to Navajo Homes

More than 60% of Navajo households use wood stoves for heat. The stoves are often very old, inefficient, and poorly vented, leading to high levels of indoor and outdoor air pollution and increased risk of fires. To combat these issues, EPA and partners have researched and designed a comprehensive stove replacement and home weatherization program that meets the needs of the Navajo Nation. Learn more.


floating island first launched into No Name Lake in November, 2016EPA Uses Floating Vegetated Islands to Remove Excess Nutrients from Water

Harmful algal blooms—the overgrowth of algae in water—are a major problem across the nation. They can cause severe, negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems, the economy, and human health. EPA is working with Chemehuevi and Colorado River Indian Tribes to evaluate the effectiveness of using man-made floating vegetated islands to reduce the occurrences of these blooms in water within the tribes’ reservations. Learn more.


Loop Beach in in Barnstable, Massachusetts Helping Coastal Communities Address Beach Closures

Tourism and recreation are critical to the economy and communities of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A recent EPA study found that when popular Cape Cod beaches are closed for the day due to bacteria levels in the water, it can mean losses of more than $15,000 for the community. EPA researchers are currently conducting a survey across New England to learn about other issues that affect people’s decision to go to the beach and to understand how water quality impacts these communities. Learn more.


Dr. Wayne Cascio is presented with his award at APHAEPA’s Dr. Wayne Cascio Recognized for  Investigating Links between Air Pollution and Heart Disease

EPA researcher Dr. Wayne Cascio studies the health effects of environmental pollutants to inform risk assessment, risk management decisions, and improvement of public health and quality of life. Dr. Cascio received the Homer N. Calver Award from the American Public Health Association for his role leading EPA’s work to focus global attention on the link between air pollution and heart disease. Learn more.


4 photos of researchers in one tileThankful for Science 

We’re thankful for our hardworking researchers that contribute to EPA’s mission to protect human and environmental health. Read about what some of our researchers are thankful for this year. 


Kingsbury Bay Helping Preserve and Promote the Cultural Significance of Kingsbury Bay and Grassy Point

EPA and partners are restoring sites along the St. Louis River that have long suffered from pollution. These areas have traditionally provided space for spiritual reflection and other tribal uses for the Native American communities in the area. EPA researchers are working with Fond du Lac Band members so that tribal resources, culturally significant places, and traditional ecological knowledge are incorporated into recommendations for restoration plans. Learn more.


EPA's low-cost sensor package deployed at the Alder Fire in California.Evaluating Low-cost Air Sensor Performance Near Wildfires

As wildfires become more frequent and severe, communities affected by wildfire smoke are concerned with air quality. Recent advances in sensor technology have led to a rise in the number of commercially available, low-cost air sensors that measure particulate matter, a harmful component of wildfire smoke. EPA researchers are working with partners to deploy and evaluate low-cost air sensors to determine if they can be used to reliably collect information about air quality in smoke-impacted areas. Learn more.


The water security test bed facility Onshore Crude Oil Decontamination Using a Water Security Test Bed

Oil spills are threats to both ground and surface waters, which can ultimately impact drinking water. EPA researchers recently examined the effectiveness of flushing crude oil to remove any persistent oil in the pipeline, appliances, and premise plumbing at EPA’s water security test bed at the Idaho National Laboratory facility. Learn more.


A group of children stand outside schoolThe Links Between Air Pollution and Childhood Asthma

Research has long linked asthma with exposure to air pollution. The estimated six million children in the United States with asthma are especially vulnerable to air pollution. Read about three recent EPA studies on the link between childhood asthma and air pollution. Learn more.


Someone fills a glass with tap waterIdentifying the Best Lead Sampling Techniques to Protect Public Health

If lead is found in drinking water, it is important to quickly identify where it is coming from within the water system. That can mean taking samples at every stage, from the distribution system all the way to the plumbing system inside the home. EPA researchers have determined the best lead sampling techniques to identify the source and protect public health. Learn more.


A medical professional uses a tabletThe Burden of Air Pollution on the Heart

Air pollution can take a significant toll on the cardiovascular system. However, only three percent of patients with heart disease discuss how to reduce their exposure to air pollution with a healthcare professional. In a recent article, EPA researchers discuss strategies to reduce exposure and the health effects of air pollution. Learn more.


kids raise their hands to answer a question in classThe Sum of the Parts: Developing a Systems-Level Approach to Protect Children's Health

The total environment approach recognizes that stressors impacting childhood health and development are encountered across three broad areas: the built, natural, and social environments. Two recent literature reviews show how EPA is advancing the total environment model as a new frontier in children’s environmental health research. This research helps to improve community health, particularly for children and other vulnerable groups. Learn more.


Children laugh outsideThe NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers: 18 Years of Investing in Children’s Health

Improving the health of children across every community is the singular focus of the NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers. Through this partnership, teams of researchers investigate the links between the environment and children’s health in ways that directly inform actions that reduce risks and prevent disease. Learn about the impacts of the partnership over the last 18 years, including 46 grants totaling more than $300 million to 24 Centers through a highly competitive application process. Learn more.


EPA researcher Karen Bradham uses a “virtual stomach” that mimics human digestion to determine if arsenic and lead in contaminated soils are bioavailable.New Testing Method for Lead and Arsenic in Contaminated Soil Saves Money and Protects Public Health

Certain forms of arsenic and lead are not bioavailable, meaning they are not fully absorbed by the human body. EPA has developed a new testing method to quickly and inexpensively estimate the bioavailability of lead and arsenic in contaminated soil. The method, based on a “virtual stomach” that mimics human digestion, can save millions of dollars in clean-up costs by helping identify which soil needs to be removed from a contaminated site. Learn more. 


A hand holding a phone while using the appA Conversation on the Smoke Sense Research Project for Wildland Fires

Wildfire smoke can be a public health burden for communities across the United States. Last year, EPA researchers developed the Smoke Sense app, a mobile application that lets users learn about wildland fires and smoke health risks in their area and report health symptoms they experience. EPA’s Dr. Ana Rappold, the project’s lead scientist, explains what the team learned from last year’s pilot phase of the project and what they’ve changed for 2018. Learn more.


Profile photo of Gary AnkleyEPA Researcher Honored As Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Finalist

How do you evaluate the potential effects of tens of thousands of substances that currently exist in our environment? EPA research toxicologist Gary Ankley was honored last week in Washington, DC, as a 2018 Career Achievement finalist for three decades of work to establish techniques and standards to identify dangerous chemicals and prevent them from contaminating America’s lakes and waterways. Learn more.


chemicals being mixed by a scientistEcoTox 5.0 Improves Access to Chemical Information on Ecological Species

Are you interested in the potential ecological effects of chemicals? EPA’s web-based Ecotoxicology Knowledgebase houses toxicity effects data on over 11,000 chemicals and 12,000 species, including aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and wildlife. Users can explore the curated data on the effects, if any, of specific chemicals on different species of fish or native plants. Learn more.


Chemicals in test tubesNew GenRA Module in EPA’s CompTox Dashboard Will Help Predict Potential Chemical Toxicity

The chemical read-across approach uses information about a chemical with known data to make a prediction about another chemical that is “similar” but does not have as much data. To improve this method, EPA researchers have developed an automated read-across tool called Generalized Read-Across. This work is part of EPA’s ongoing effort to develop faster methods to evaluate chemicals for potential health effects. Learn more


a lightning bolt lights up the night skyHow Does Lightning Impact Air Pollution?

Lightning-generated nitrogen oxides have a relatively small but potentially significant impact on ground-level ozone. EPA researchers are using innovative air quality models to measure these impacts. Learn more.


wildfire near roadwayWildland Fire Sensors Challenge: Winners Provide Real-time Systems for Measuring Pollutant Levels from Smoke

Wildland fires pose many obstacles for air quality monitoring because of high concentrations of air pollutants, high temperatures, rugged terrain, and other challenges. EPA and partners created the Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge to develop air monitoring instruments that could handle these conditions. Learn about the winners of the challenge.


R. Subramanian repairing a RAMP at an Allegheny County Clean Air Now member's house near Neville Island.EPA Grants Fund Researchers Working with Communities to Monitor Air Pollution in Washington and Pennsylvania

EPA grantees are working in cities across the country to teach local residents about how to use low-cost air pollution sensors to monitor air quality. One grantee is working with a team to teach local students how to use low-cost air pollution sensors to monitor air quality in Washington’s lower Yakima Valley. Across the country, another grantee is working with residents to monitor air quality in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a city that has struggled with exposure to air pollution for many years. Learn more.


From Brownfield to Breadbasket: Health Impact Assessments Help Communities Make Healthy Decisions

Local and state officials are contemplating what to do with a vacant and once contaminated property located in downtown Dover, Delaware. EPA is helping officials make decisions about the site by conducting a rapid Health Impact Assessment, an approach for identifying how a proposed policy or project might impact the health of a community. Learn more.


Microbial Source Tracking: How did that get in there?

An estimated 90 million illnesses each year are caused by exposure to microbial contaminants in U.S. recreational waters. EPA researchers have developed several tools to characterize the sources of microbial contamination. Understanding the contamination sources can help resource managers mitigate the effects of the pollution or stop it from entering the water in the first place. Learn more.


EPA Researchers Partner with WaterStep to Deliver Clean Water During Emergencies

Following a disaster, water systems can become flooded and unable to provide safe drinking water to communities. To address this challenge, EPA researchers partnered with WaterStep to develop a portable water treatment system that can quickly and cost-effectively provide safe drinking water to affected communities following a disaster. This partnership helped provide clean drinking water in the aftermath of the devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico. Learn more.
 

Water runs through a small streamEPA Researchers Develop Tool to Improve Water Quality

Many communities face challenges when managing their water resources. EPA developed the Watershed Management Optimization Tool to help water resource managers and planners improve water quality. The tool was recently used to help communities in Massachusetts and Maryland. Learn more.


kids raise their hands to answer a question in classBack to School: Supporting Teachers with EPA STEM Educational Resources

To help share EPA’s work with students of all ages, EPA researchers developed several E-STEM resources that can be used in formal and informal educational settings. Learn more.


Someone fills a glass with tap waterReducing PFAS in Drinking Water with Treatment Technologies

Traditional drinking water treatment technologies are not able to remove per- and polyfluorinated substances, or PFAS, from water. EPA researchers are working to enhance water treatment approaches to remove PFAS compounds from drinking water. Learn more.


The view from EPA's research vessel, the Lake Explorer II, between Toronto and Whitby, Ontario in July 2018. Researchers were aboard the vessel collecting data on the health of the Great Lakes. Teaming Up to Protect the Great Lakes

As one of the world’s largest surface freshwater ecosystems, the Great Lakes have their share of water quality issues. As part of the Great Lakes Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative, EPA scientists have been using two research vessels and an autonomous glider to collect data on Lake Ontario all summer long. The data will help determine the overall health of the lake and which areas need to be prioritized for restoration. Learn more.


a scientist at workEPA Scientists Develop New Methods to Evaluate Chemicals

Some chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system, a complicated network of glands, hormones, and receptors that regulates biological processes in the body. EPA researchers are analyzing the use of a high-throughput screening assay that detects chemical effects on steroidogenesis, the production of steroid hormones from cholesterol. The new assay has potential to increase the efficiency of chemical screening efforts and fill data gaps for large numbers of chemicals using fewer resources. Learn more. 


Cape Fear RiverEPA Researchers Use Innovative Approach to Find PFAS in the Environment

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are chemicals used in countless consumer products. With so many types of PFAS in use, it can be difficult to find out which ones are persisting in the environment. EPA is using a new approach, non-targeted analysis, to help communities determine potential PFAS exposure. Learn more. 


Children smileReducing Children’s Lead Exposure in Omaha, Nebraska

For many years, EPA has been helping clean up properties in Omaha, Nebraska, affected by lead contamination from the operation of a lead refinery. EPA researchers are gathering data to ensure that these efforts are leading to decreased blood lead levels in the children that lived in the affected areas and determine whether further remediation is needed. This research has the potential to help protect children across the country in areas where not as much data is available. Learn more. 


The coastal waters of northeast United StatesGuidelines for Measuring Changes in Seawater pH

The eastern coastline of the United States is a key ecosystem for millions of people. EPA measures changes in the pH of seawater in these coastal and estuarine areas to ensure that this important ecosystem is protected. Because the pH of coastal waters can vary so greatly, EPA has published guidelines for doing your own measuring to increase our understanding of how water pH affects life in and around these areas. Learn more. 


The field crew performs a penetration test using a single mass penetrometer.  Photo credit: Tetra Tech.Evaluating the Effectiveness of Vacant Lots as Green Infrastructure in Buffalo, NY

Rainfall replenishes water supplies and keeps our urban landscapes green, but even small storms can cause localized flooding and inundate sewer systems. EPA researchers and partners are determining the extent to which vacant lots around the city of Buffalo, NY, can function as green infrastructure by absorbing and filtering stormwater. Learn more.


EPA researcher Marsha Morgan and her dog Jesse. Protecting Our Pets Through Research, Technology, and the National Pet Health Survey

For those with pets, long summer days may mean more time outside for adventures with your best pal. But all that fun in the sun can impact our health, as well as that of our animal friends, by increasing our potential for exposure to things like tick- or waterborne-illnesses. EPA is working with partners to protect the health of people and their pets. Learn more.


Someone fills a glass with tap waterRevealing the Complicated Nature of Tap Water Lead Contamination: A Madison, Wisconsin, Case Study

Lead can contaminate drinking water as the water moves through pipes with lead in them. In some cases, lead levels in drinking water can remain high even after the pipes in the system have been replaced. EPA researchers worked with the city of Madison, Wisconsin, to determine why elevated lead levels can persist for so long. Learn more.


A honey bee gathers pollen from showy milkweed flowers.Understanding How Pesticide Exposure Affects Honeybee Colonies

Due to multiple factors, bees have declined across North America and Europe. EPA researchers looked at pesticide exposure to provide scientists with a clearer understanding of how it affects honeybees at the colony level. Learn more.


a scientists handles chemicalsEPA’s ENTACT Study Breaks New Ground with Non-Targeted Research

How do you test for something when you don’t even know it’s there? EPA is using non-targeted analysis methods to identify unknown chemicals in samples, without having a preconceived idea of what chemicals are present. These innovative methods may make chemical safety assessment faster than traditional methods. Learn more.


A rabbit sits in a forest Baseball Bats, Bunnies, and Christmas Trees: Exploring the Benefits of Ecosystems

Could baseball's MVP be your local forest? For many baseball players, the wood of choice for baseball bats is white ash, a native of the forests of eastern and central North America. EPA scientist Tara Greaver and colleagues explored the cascade of impacts of reduced white ash and balsam fir trees on forest ecosystems and human well-being. Learn more.


This is on the top of the NJ Department of the Environment Bayonne, NJ air quality monitoring shelter with a spectrometer and weather station.EPA Scientists Collaborate with States to Protect Long Island Sound Air Quality

The Long Island Sound is home to a diverse array of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. This unique geography leads to high ground-level ozone concentrations along the shorelines of New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. EPA is working with partners to better understand the complex interaction of emissions, chemistry, and meteorological factors contributing to these high levels. Learn more.


Green algae on surface of waterEPA Researchers Develop Strategies and Methods to Help Predict Harmful Algal Blooms in Kansas

Harmful algal blooms produce cyanotoxins which can contaminate water and impact tourism, the fishing industry, and recreational activities. At Milford Lake—which discharges into the Kansas River, a drinking water source for more than 800,000 people—EPA researchers are working with the state of Kansas and other partners to determine ways to monitor, prevent, and predict harmful algal blooms. Learn more.


the Cape Fear River in North Carolina Supporting States, Tribes, and Communities on PFAS

EPA researchers are using their expertise to help states, tribes, and local governments with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals, known as PFAS, do not break down easily in the environment and can have implications to human and environmental health. EPA researchers are helping communities identify and reduce PFAS chemicals at sites around the country. Learn more.


SPods (in blue) are fenceline monitoring devices developed by EPA to measure air pollutant plumes at an industrial facility.  EPA scientists tested them at EPA’s research campus in RTP, NC, alongside prototypes designed by commercial developers using the Tracking Emissions Using New Fenceline Monitoring Technology

For communities living close to industry, air pollution emissions may be a concern to health and well-being. EPA researchers are working with industry, states, and communities to develop low-cost and portable technologies that can be deployed next to an industrial complex for emissions testing. Learn more.


the lens of a microscope Developing Organs On-a-Chip: Chemical Safety Research Collaborators Provide Research Review

EPA is working with grantees to develop predictive toxicology tools. These virtual tissue models, sometime referred to as “Organs on-a-chip,” provide a pathway for the development of new prediction techniques. They also have the potential to reduce dependence on animal study data and contribute to faster chemical risk assessments. Learn more. 


Oil is being burned after a simulated oil spillSimulating Oil Spill Burns to Improve Clean Up and Protect Air Quality

Burning oil spills has been a fast and relatively safe way to reduce the impact on water quality and marine life. However, burning oil can impact air quality and the oily residues left behind in the water can cause environmental damage. Learn more.   


a scientists handles chemicalsChemical Safety Research Advances in Support of Lautenberg Act

Since the Nation’s primary chemical management law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), was amended in 2016, EPA researchers have been providing support for several important TSCA activities. EPA has met several key milestones and continues to move the state-of-the science forward. Learn more. 


‘Citizen Science Air Monitor’ or CSAM sensor pods. Designed by EPA, the pods measure ozone, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), temperature, and relative humidity.Measuring Air Pollution in Southern California Using Low-Cost Sensors

Small, portable, low-cost air quality sensors are providing new opportunities to assess air quality. To assist local and state air quality managers, community groups, and others, EPA is evaluating and developing air sensor technologies and providing information on using and interpreting sensor data. EPA recently collaborated with the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Air Quality Sensor Performance Evaluation Center in California to study the performance of some of these sensors. Learn more.


Summertime low tides expose cockles that have emerged from the sediment to the top of a thick macroalgae mat in Yaquina Bay, OR.To Leave or Not to Leave: The Heart Cockle and Green Macroalgae Blooms

In small estuaries of the Pacific Northwest, seasonal blooms of green macroalgae are primarily associated with natural nutrient input. This environment allowed EPA researchers to study the effects of macroalgal blooms on an ecosystem, without the additional influence of chemical co-contaminants that are often present in more populated areas. The results of the study will help researchers better understand the effects of nutrient pollution on important fishery species, like the heart cockle. Learn more.


bloom on ohio riverKeeping the Water Flowing: Helping Water Treatment Facilities Handle Harmful Algal Blooms

Sometimes there is a simple way to avoid the health effects of harmful algal blooms — just stay out of the water. But when that water serves as a drinking water source, just waiting it out can leave thousands without a basic necessity: clean, healthy water. That’s why EPA researchers are helping water treatment facilities keep the water flowing even in the face of harmful algal blooms. Learn more. 


Green algae on surface of waterThe One Health Approach to Harmful Algal Blooms

The “One Health” approach recognizes that human health is connected to the health of animals and the environment. An article by EPA researcher Betsy Hilborn describes how using a One Health approach could help address and reduce the risks associated with harmful algal blooms on human, animal, and environmental health. Learn more. 


Kids stand in a circle learning a lesson about the environmentEnviroAtlas in the Classroom: New K-16 Lesson Plans that Empower Tomorrow’s Decision-Makers

Many students are familiar with common chronic illnesses, but may be unaware of how the surrounding environment is linked to these conditions. EPA’s new suite of educational materials aims to address that knowledge gap with classroom-ready lessons that teach students about the environment’s effects on their daily lives, including their health and well-being. Learn more.


Screenshot of enviroatlas tool showing population distributionEPA’s EnviroAtlas Publishes Data on Six New Urban Areas

All communities rely on clean air, clean water, green space, and other natural amenities for their economic sustainability and quality of life. However, these factors aren’t always fully understood or considered when making planning decisions. EPA’s EnviroAtlas combines a variety of data to help inform decision makers. EPA recently added data for six new urban areas, including Baltimore and Chicago. Learn more.


The tool used in the ammonia oxidation studyWorking with Communities to Solve a Big Problem in Small Water Systems

Ammonia is found at high levels in many agricultural areas where groundwater is the primary drinking water source. To combat this problem, EPA researchers developed affordable and easy-to-use biological drinking water treatment systems. EPA successfully partnered with a community in Iowa in a year-long pilot project to test the technology. Learn more. 


Chicago skylineEPA Tool Helps Chicago Account for and Visualize Urban Water Flows

Delivering drinking water and treating sewage for millions of people, in addition to managing stormwater across hundreds of square miles, requires an extensive network of pipes, pumps, and treatment facilities. New EPA software can help planning agencies and water utilities better understand the flows of water into, within, and out of their cities. Learn more.


EPA researcher Joseph Wilkins studies wildland fire emissions using computer models. Tracking Smoke with Models to Protect Public Health

EPA scientists are developing sophisticated computer models to track chemical composition and transport of smoke plumes and predict what areas could be impacted. This information can assist local officials in issuing public health advisories. Learn more.


Amara Holder holding a sensor that will be used in the field testing study during a wildfireAdvancing Sensor Technology to Monitor Wildfires

EPA and partners are looking at ways to use miniature sensors to monitor air quality near wildfires. Data from these small sensors can complement measurements obtained from more complex regulatory-grade monitors that are stationary or not easily transported. Learn more. 


A pipe rig developed by EPA scientists for corrosion control studies at Flint’s water treatment plant.Inside EPA: A Closer Look at Some of EPA’s Laboratory Research Facilities

Scientists and engineers in EPA’s Office of Research and Development are conducting research to address geographically-based environmental issues and advance science to support public health and environmental protection. Learn about seven of EPA’s important research facilities.


A graphic showing the size of pm related to hairEPA Works with State and Local Leaders to Protect Public Health 

EPA partners with public health organizations to share science and ensure a healthy future for our nation’s communities. Read about some of the positive impacts these partnerships have had.


Collage of EPA employeesCelebrate Women's History Month with EPA

March is Women's History Month, and in celebration, here are a few amazing women who help EPA achieve its mission to protect human health and the environment. Learn more about their work and read their advice for anyone interested in a career in science.
 

Village Green station in Durham, NCA DIY Dream: Build Your Own Village Green Air Monitoring Station

If you live in a city with a Village Green station, monitoring air quality can be as easy as a walk in the park. EPA’s Village Green stations are park benches with innovative air quality measurement systems built right into them. Anyone interested in establishing their own Village Green-like station can learn how by viewing the new instructional manual and video. Learn more.


Small air sensors like this one can be used by anyone curious about local air quality. Photo credit: Aeroqual.EPA Combines Expertise with New Zealand Company to Advance Air Sensor Technologies

Low-cost air sensor technologies continue to become more readily available. But the need to accurately characterize the air quality data remains a challenge. EPA researchers are working with Aeroqual, a New Zealand-based company specializing in the development of air quality monitoring equipment, to evaluate and advance these new technologies. Learn more. 
 

GPS data loggers like this one collect information on a person's location and speed for input into MicroTrac.New MicroTrac Tool Enhances Air Pollution Exposure Assessments

Over the course of a day, we may encounter different levels of air pollutants. Tracking these exposures is important to understanding their impacts on our health. EPA researchers developed the MicroTrac model to enhance exposure assessments by correctly identifying where people are when they are exposed to air pollution. Learn more. 


Household cleaning productsEPA Researchers Publish Paper Analyzing Household Products for Chemical Presence

Typically, when a product is screened for chemicals, the researcher is only looking for the presence of a few specific chemicals. Using a new approach, called suspect screening, EPA researchers are testing household products for all chemicals present. These data can be used to prioritize which chemicals should be screened for health risks. Learn more.


A tool used in wildfire research The Science Behind Wildfire Smoke’s Toxicity

Wildfire smoke is dangerous. It’s also a major component of air pollution. EPA researchers are investigating whether particles in wildfire smoke have different health effects depending on the type of wood burned and stage of the fire such as flaming or smoldering. Learn more.


Test tubes with different color water in themEPA Toxicologists Focus Innovative Research on PFAS Compounds

One of the biggest challenges in understanding potential hazards of exposure to PFAS chemicals is the lack of toxicity information. EPA researchers have partnered with researchers at the National Toxicology Program to develop a tiered testing approach to quickly generate toxicity and kinetic information for approximately 75 PFAS compounds. Learn more. 


Chemicals in test tubesEPA Partners with Unilever to Advance Chemical Screening

EPA’s researchers are combining chemical data from newly developed testing and screening techniques with Unilever data on exposure information from use of consumer products. This collaboration has the potential to provide better ways to evaluate the potential health effects of new ingredients and chemicals. Learn more.


A stream running through a forestECOTOX Update Improves Search for Environmental Chemical Toxicity Data

EPA has updated ECOTOX, a publicly available application that provides environmental chemical toxicity data used to assess the effects of chemical exposures to aquatic life, terrestrial plants, and wildlife. ECOTOX 5.0 is now available in beta version, offering an opportunity to provide feedback before this updated version becomes final. Learn more. 


Chemical tubesUnderstanding PFAS in the Environment

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are chemicals that are used in a variety of consumer and industrial products. PFAS persist in the environment and can build up in the bodies of people and animals, harming the environment and human health. EPA scientists and engineers are working to help communities make informed decisions about PFAS in the environment. Learn more.


Village Blue's water quality sensors are mounted underwater in Baltimore's Jones Falls River, shown here. The data collected by the sensors is stored and transmitted by equipment housed in this weather-proof box (foreground).Launch of Village Blue Web Application Shares Water Monitoring Data with Baltimore Community

EPA is working with USGS and several local and state organizations to provide real-time water quality monitoring data to the Baltimore, Maryland, community. The project, Village Blue, has a new web application that displays data collected via two sensors mounted underwater in Baltimore Harbor. Learn more.


EPA and partners from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians review the assembly of a weather shelter for low-cost sensors.EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox Offers New Tools for Community-led Air Monitoring

Monitoring your local air quality just got a little easier. EPA‘s Air Sensor Toolbox has two new tools that enable citizen scientists to more effectively collect and interpret air quality data in their communities. Learn more. 


A family takes a hikeAre Greenspaces Good for Your Heart?

Neighborhood forests may be good for our hearts. Two new EPA studies examine the links between greenspaces and healthy communities. Learn more.


Engaging Historically Black Colleges and Universities through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education and Community Engagement

Encouraging the next generation of scientists is essential in addressing future environmental challenges. Through its Community Engagement and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Outreach Program, EPA has been engaging with college and graduate students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in North Carolina. Learn more.


Heart and stethoscope on top of papersHow Can You Protect Your Heart from Air Pollution?

EPA researchers are studying whether eating certain foods or taking supplements might protect against the onslaught of air pollution. They are also testing innovative technologies that can be used to teach people about potential risks. Learn more. 


Rain gardens in a Chicago parkEPA’s Stormwater Calculator Gets An Update

Stormwater runoff is one of the fastest growing sources of pollution. In areas with more rooftops and roads than natural surfaces, a big storm can mean flooding and increased pollution reaching our waterways. EPA's National Stormwater Calculator, a tool to help reduce runoff using low-impact development tools, is now available as a web application that can be used on desktop and mobile devices. Learn more.


Pre-Modeling Tool Helps Guide Contaminated Site Cleanup Plans

EPA is committed to advancing the cleanup of contaminated sites. EPA researcher Dale Werkema and collaborators at the U.S. Geological Survey recently released an easy-to-use, spreadsheet-based tool to help site managers and others explore the value of using electrical resistivity imaging before investing time and money into the technique to guide cleanup activities. Learn more.


The Danger of Wildland Fire Smoke to Public Health

Wildfires are increasing in intensity and size, contributing to impaired air quality for people living near or downwind of the fires. In a new article, EPA researcher Wayne Cascio provides insights into the state of knowledge about the health effects of smoke from wildfires and describes needed research. Learn more. 


Partnering with States and Local Communities on Water Reuse

 We know we can reduce how much water we use, but what about reusing and recycling it? EPA is working with San Francisco and other state and local governments around the country to make sure we can do that safely. Researchers are currently modeling exposure risks to create a regulatory risk-based framework so that water can be recycled and reused safely. Learn more.


Study Shows Low Levels of Air Pollution Pose Risk for Older Adults

Studies have shown the harmful effects of long-term exposure to air pollution, but there is little research on the effects of exposure to air pollution at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. To fill this gap, EPA grantee Francesca Dominici and colleagues conducted a nationwide study to examine the link between mortality and long-term exposure to ozone and PM2.5 at levels lower than the current annual standards. The results show that even low levels of air pollution raise mortality risk for older adults. Learn more. 


Collage of EPA researchersEPA Researchers: 2017 Reflections and Hopes for 2018

We asked EPA researchers to share their 2017 accomplishments and goals for the next year. Read about what they are most proud of in the past year and what they are looking forward to in 2018. 


Research to Support the Toxic Substances Control Act

Last year, Congress passed a bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which helps EPA protect American families from the potential health effects of chemicals.To make sure TSCA is enforced effectively, EPA requires the best scientific data on chemical safety. EPA researchers are developing and improving tools to provide chemical data and help implement TSCA. Learn more.


EPA Researcher Gary AnkleyEPA's Dr. Gerald Ankley Receives Presidential Rank Award

EPA scientist Dr. Gerald Ankley was selected as a Distinguished Rank Recipient for the Presidential Rank Awards. As an EPA employee of 29-years, Dr. Ankley has represented the highest standard of elite researchers in the field of environmental science. Learn more.


preview pictureNovel Air Measurement Technology Supports Smoke Management Practices for Prescribed Burns

Prescribed burns in prairies can get rid of invasive plants and rejuvenate the soil, which encourages native grasses to grow. However, the smoke plumes from the fires can contribute to air pollution in nearby communities and farther downwind. EPA researchers are conducting research in Flint Hills, Kansas, to support best smoke management practices for prescribed burns of prairies to reduce the impact of smoke on communities. Learn more.


Preview picture of articleKeeping Fertilizer in the Ground and Dollars in Farmers’ Pockets

Using too much fertilizer can waste farmers’ money and impact groundwater and surface water across the country. EPA researchers are working with farmers to connect agricultural practices with groundwater management in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The goal of the research is to improve water quality and help Oregon farmers reduce their annual spending on fertilizer. Learn more. 


Worchester, MAEPA Researchers are Helping Cities Measure Their Resilience

EPA researchers looked at vulnerabilities to environmental changes in Washington, DC, and Worcester, Massachusetts. Their report describes a comprehensive and flexible workbook that cities can use to become more resilient to these changes. Learn more. 


The Yurok Tribe Assesses Environmental Vulnerability

The Yurok Tribe in Northern California depends on the health of the Klamath River for much of its food and water supplies. With support from EPA, the Yurok Tribe Environmental Program is currently conducting a study to identify areas of water resource vulnerability and resiliency, assess impacts on food security and tribal health, and increase the Tribe’s adaptive capacity to prepare and respond to changes in the environment. Learn more. 


Lake ChamplainWorking with Farmers to Reduce Phosphorus in Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain has a phosphorus problem. EPA researchers are working with small dairy farmers in the state of Vermont to explore whether pasture-based rotational grazing can be a viable, cost-effective, option to help to reduce phosphorus loading to the lake. The goal is to find an equitable, socially acceptable solution that supports farmers in the region. Learn more.


People running in a parkNearby Green Spaces Linked to Reduced Chronic Stress

Exposure to green space in cities and suburbs is associated with a host of health benefits such as improved mental health, better pregnancy outcomes, and reduced cardiovascular disease and mortality. But how does spending time in green natural environments lead to better health? One explanation may be reducing the harmful effects of chronic stress. Learn more.


EPA researchers installing an air monitorAdvancing Air Quality Measurement Capabilities and Engaging A Kansas Community in Citizen Science

EPA recently launched the year-long Kansas City Transportation and Local-Scale Air Quality Study to learn more about air quality in three neighborhoods in Kansas City, KS, that have multiple air pollution sources from highways, railways, and industry. The study will provide comprehensive air quality monitoring using three different air measurement approaches. A citizen science project is part of the study and will involve area residents and students in air measurement activities. Learn more.


Nitrogen Footprint Tool: Reducing Nitrogen at the Institutional Level

You’ve heard of a carbon footprint, but what about a nitrogen footprint? Nitrogen pollution can negatively affect air and water quality, as well as public health. EPA and collaborators used the Nitrogen Footprint Tool to calculate the nitrogen footprint of seven universities and laboratories to see where they could reduce their nitrogen outputs. The results can help institutions develop better sustainability strategies for their campuses. Learn more.


Children in line on hopscotchEPA Leads the Way on Lead Exposure Science and Risk Management

Lead is everywhere – the air, the soil, the water, and inside our homes. Children, whose brains are still developing, are more susceptible to a host of neurological health effects brought on by lead exposure. Three new EPA studies on lead exposure and risk management can inform decisions to better protect children and other vulnerable groups by identifying exposure hotspots and quantifying how different sources contribute to exposure. Learn more.


Children running along a pathProtecting Children’s Health for a Lifetime

Children are likely to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of environmental contaminants. EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have jointly funded several Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers across the country. For more than 17 years, the Centers have provided communities with the information they need to better protect children from environmental exposures wherever they live, learn, and play. Learn more.


Children boarding a school busUnderstanding How Environmental Factors Affect Children’s Asthma

In the United States, 6.2 million children are affected by asthma, causing them to miss school, extracurricular activities, and other important eventsEnvironmental factors such as air pollution, mold, and secondhand smoke can worsen common asthma symptoms. Research from the NIEHS/EPA Children’s Centers has increased understanding of what factors heighten asthma and what can be done to help children maintain a normal quality of life. Learn more.


Brain on red backgroundEvaluating Developmental Neurotoxicity Hazard: Better than Before

Less than 1% of chemicals in the environment have been tested for effects on the developing nervous system. EPA researchers grew neural networks in their laboratory that showed the promise of helping to screen thousands of chemicals in the environment that are yet to be characterized for developmental neurotoxicity hazard through traditional methods. Learn more.


CMAQ over picture of earthEPA Releases CMAQ 5.2

Researchers need to understand how complex mixtures of air pollutants are formed, transported, and eventually removed from the atmosphere. EPA’s Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) Modeling System, a computational tool that models multiple air pollutants and a variety of air toxics, has been updated to support research in this area. Learn more.


wildfire near roadwayResearch Shows Health Impacts and Economic Costs of Wildland Fires

What is the public health and economic cost of air pollution from wildland fires? Researchers from EPA and NC State University, the University of Sydney, and the University of Tasmania recently determined that thousands of premature deaths and illnesses were caused by air pollution from wildfire smoke over a five-year period. The economic cost of these impacts is in the tens of billions of dollars. Learn more. 


Cyan app logoThe Cyanobacteria Assessment Network 

The Cyanobacteria Assessment Network uses historical and current satellite data to provide an early warning for harmful algal blooms in freshwater. Since 2015, CyAN imagery has detected algal blooms in Ohio, Florida, California, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island before traditional monitoring efforts alerted watershed managers. Learn more.


Example of a newly excavated sinuous creek (1 m wide by 0.6 m deep) that was created to increase high marsh drainage as part of an ongoing climate change adaptation project in the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, RI. Photo taken by K.Building A Resilient Shoreline: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy

 EPA is helping a community in Rhode Island develop strategies to protect them from future extreme weather events. Part of this effort includes working with partners to build a “living shoreline” and improving marsh condition to better withstand flooding. Learn more.


Scientist decontaminating a subwayPreparing for Potential Attacks

After a wide-area attack with a biological agent, like anthrax, rapid response is essential. Safe and effective clean-up methods based on sound science are crucial. That’s why EPA researchers are looking for ways to speed up and simplify the decontamination process to rapidly and effectively respond to environmental catastrophes. Learn more.


Group of clear plastic water bottlesAre BPA Substitutes Any Safer Than BPA?

EPA scientists have been conducting research to better understand the health effects from exposure to BPA. In the meantime, many manufacturers have started to use other chemicals as substitutes for BPA. An EPA scientist, along with researchers at King’s College London, set out to determine whether six bisphenol A (BPA) alternatives found in the marketplace are any safer than BPA itself. Learn more. 


Meteorological station in closed-canopy forest stand.Coast-to-Crest Monitoring Network – Data in Demand 

Forested watersheds in the Pacific Northwest are largely responsible for the region’s clean water, but they are vulnerable to threats such as diseases, wildfire, pests, and a changing climate. To better understand how forests respond to these threats, EPA has partnered with the US Forest Service to establish a network of monitoring sites in the Coast and Cascade Mountain Ranges of western Oregon. Learn more.


Members of the Louisville, Kentucky, sampling teamSourcing Urban Soil Contaminants to Improve Cleanup

Identifying the source of soil contaminants is vital to decision-making during an environmental cleanup. That's why EPA scientists partnered with several southeastern states to figure out how urban background contaminants differ from industrial waste at urban sites. Learn more.


Mosquito on skinEPA and Brownsville, TX, Team Up to Address Mosquito-borne Disease Risk

In November 2016, Brownsville, Texas, became the second location in the U.S. to report a locally-acquired case of the Zika virus—a disease spread by mosquitoes that can lead to severe birth defects. EPA researchers are partnering with the Department of Public Health and local universities in Brownsville to identify mosquito hotspots and the factors that lead to the mosquito’s spread.  Learn more.


An air monitor is pictured with the sky as a backdropBy Air, Land and Sea: Tackling the Ozone Issue on Lake Michigan’s Shores

EPA scientists are collaborating with multiple agencies for the Lake Michigan Ozone Study--a field study aimed at better understanding ozone chemistry and meteorology along the Wisconsin-Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline using a combination of aircraft, ground-based, and ship-based measurements. Learn more. 


EPA's latest Village Green bench is wrapped in ribbon.Latest Village Green Station Finds New Home in Houston Museum District

EPA scientists and partners have installed the latest Village Green bench at the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science in Houston, Texas. The solar-powered bench was designed by EPA researchers to provide insights into new air monitoring technology and engage the community in their local air quality. Learn more.

EPA scientists and partners are using EnviroAtlas to model recent land cover changes in Minnesota to understand how projected changes could affect future water quality and associated treatment costs. Learn more.


Recently restored Great Lakes coastal wetland within the estuaryStaging a Comeback Along the St. Louis River

EPA researchers and a host of partners have been working to restore the St. Louis River estuary and help local communities reap the full benefits of a clean, healthy environment. Their work is already making improvements in water quality. Learn more. 


New York City New MARKAL Tool Designed to Help Cities Meet Environmental Protection Goals

EPA researchers are creating an energy and water technology tool - called the Community-Scale MARKAL Model - to help cities and other municipalities make decisions on how to protect the environment, while also providing energy required for water services. Learn more. 


East Fork Watershed Cooperative members visit a wetland treatment siteLocal Partnership Works to Improve Watershed Health

EPA established the East Fork Watershed Cooperative—a group of scientists, engineers, economists, and water resource professionals from a variety of organizations—to find the best ways to improve water quality in the East Fork of the Little Miami River Watershed in Ohio. Learn more. 


Cars driving on highway toward city. Highway is lined by vegetation.Living Close to Roadways: Health Concerns and Mitigation Strategies

Living close to roadways can pose health risks related to pollution from traffic. EPA researchers are looking at ways to mitigate these risks, including placing vegetation barriers along roads to reduce pollution. Learn more. 


Cyanobacteria in lakeSmall Systems with a Big Problem: Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms are a concern for all water managers, but can be a particularly tough issue to tackle for small systems managers. Responding to these blooms in a timely and efficient manner can make all of the difference in the treatment process. Learn more. (Posted October 27, 2016)


Community members and students in Tijuana

Universities Lend a Hand with Sustainability

Through EPA's Net Zero Initiative, EPA is supporting campus-community partnerships. These partnerships help cities and communities leverage the skills and expertise of local universities to improve sustainability, the health of community members, and the environment. Read more. (Posted October 13, 2016)


A parking lot made from permeable pavement, a type of green infrastructure

Leaving the Gray Behind

Researchers with EPA’s Net Zero Program are working with the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas Unified School District 475, and others to test and demonstrate green infrastructure technology, such as permeable pavement, at Fort Riley in Kansas. Read more. (Posted June 24, 2016)


graphic of a plaque buildup in an arter.

Linking Air Pollution and Heart Disease

Researchers funded by EPA’s STAR grant program at the University of Washington found a direct link between air pollution and atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the coronary artery that can affect heart health.  Read more. (Posted June 10, 2016)


Image of household product bottles.

Improved Methods for Estimating Chemical Exposure

EPA researchers are using new technology to improve computational exposure science, which helps create a more complete picture of how and in what amounts chemicals enter our bodies. Learn more. (Posted May 17, 2016)


Fresh Produce.

Net Zero: America's Food Waste Problem

Every year in the US, approximately 133 billion pounds of food is wasted. EPA’s Net Zero Initiative is working with communities in Columbia, South Carolina, including military base Fort Jackson, to evaluate ways to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills. Learn more. (Posted April 22, 2016)


Net zero icon.

Net Zero: Leading the Conversation about Sustainability

Under the Net Zero Initiative, EPA is improving the environment, saving money, and helping local communities become more sustainable. Learn more. (Posted April 21, 2016)


A family plays on the beach.

National Coastal Condition Assessment

Coastal waters are essential to industry, tourism, recreation, and the lifecycle of various species. This is why it’s so important to monitor these waters for potentially harmful trends and to identify areas in good condition. Learn how EPA scientists assess our coastal waters. (Posted April 19, 2016)


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