EPA Science Matters Newsletter
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.
In this research update, EPA provides funding for innovative research on harmful algal blooms, a study looks at exposure to air pollution from highways, railways, and industry in Kansas City, and an EPA grantee examines the link between mortality and long-term exposure to ozone and PM2.5 at levels lower than the current annual standards. Learn more.
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.
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 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.
In this research update, EPA scientist Dr. Gerald Ankley was honored for a career of important environmental research. EPA launched a cross-agency effort to address PFAS in the environment and EPA and partners announced Phase 2 of the Advanced Septic System Nitrogen Sensor Challenge. Learn more.
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.
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.
In this research update, EPA researchers are supporting best smoke management practices for prescribed burns and working with farmers in Oregon to save money while reducing impacts on groundwater. EPA-supported research centers that look at health disparities among minority and economically-disadvantaged populations issued a report on their progress so far. Learn more.
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 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 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.
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.
In this research update, you can learn about how EPA research is finding correlations between time spent in natural environments and stress reduction, help ing Vermont farmers to reduce phosphorus in Lake Champlain, and helping cities measure their resilience. You can also read about EPA supported research to assess the Yurok Tribe's environmental vulnerability. Learn more.
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.
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.
In this research update, you can learn about EPA research to measure the nitrogen footprints of seven U.S. universities. EPA also 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. EPA researchers identified areas in Portland, Oregon, that could benefit from heat mitigation efforts such as planting trees and vegetation. And EPA-funded research found that even as air pollution levels decrease, people of color continue to be exposed to more air pollution than other groups. Learn more.
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 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.
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.
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.
In this research update, you can learn more about children's health research at EPA. Stories include the research of Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers, jointly funded by EPA and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; three new EPA studies on lead exposure and risk management can inform decisions to better protect children and other vulnerable groups; and EPA research on how environmental chemicals may disrupt normal microbial colonization and cause developmental neurotoxicity. Learn more.
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.
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.
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.
In this research update, EPA awards money to 15 small businesses , uses satellite imagery to detect harmful algal blooms, determines the public health cost of wildfires, and updates a tool to help researchers study how complex mixtures of air pollutants are formed. Learn more.
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.
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.
September is National Preparedness Month. EPA scientists and engineers are working to protect human health and the environment in the face of emergencies and natural disasters. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA is responding to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. EPA also teamed up with CDC on a new course for healthcare professionals, investigated BPA alternatives to see if they were safer than BPA, and tried to improve stormwater management plans. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA is working with partners across 14 states to address environmental challenges. Researchers are also monitoring forested watersheds across the Pacific Northwest to see how they are responding to emerging threats in the region. Finally, EPA and partners installed a permeable pavement parking lot at an elementary school in Fort Riley, Kansas. Learn more.
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.
EPA researchers are working with partners on the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network, one of the most wide-ranging freshwater monitoring systems in the country. An EPA study, called Smoke Sense, is the first of its kind to use a mobile app to evaluate the health effects from wildland fires. To better understand exposure to and risk from nanomaterials, EPA researchers have developed a new structured approach, or framework, to evaluate the potential risks of nanomaterials. Learn more.
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.
EPA researchers are working with the Nisqually Community Forest (NCF) to improve forest management and help wildlife recover. EPA and partners have launched the Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge to combat nutrient pollution. EPA's Report on the Environment is an interactive resource that shows how the conditions of the environment and human health in the United States are changing over time. The latest update to the ROE includes updated data for 31 indicators. Learn more.
In this research update, EPA collaborated with the technology company, Aclima, on the company’s year-long study that equipped Google Street View cars with a mobile sensing platform to measure local air quality in the city of Oakland, California. EPA is also developing faster and more economical approaches to predict potential health effects of thousands of chemicals. Finally, EPA has announced a request for applications for two grants totaling $4 million in funding for innovative research into detecting and controlling lead in drinking water. Learn more.
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 researchers are measuring water quality on Lake Huron, looking at the connections between genes and air pollution, and exploring the drivers that affect rural drinking water quality. Learn more.
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 collaborating on the Lake Michigan Ozone Study. Other recent EPA research includes a Community Health Vulnerability Index that can be used to help identify communities at higher health risk from wildfire smoke and research that shows the link between air pollution near roadways and cardiovascular disease. Learn more.
EPA researchers, working with scientists from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, are helping farmers improve the health of the soil and increase crop yields in the Atlantic coastal plain. Adam Nayak, a junior at Cleveland High School in Portland, OR, was this year’s winner of EPA’s Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award. And EPA scientists are filling in missing pieces of the puzzle on chemical exposure. 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.
EPA researchers and partners are teaming up to respond when disaster strikes. Researchers have also been examining how the hormone estrone affects male fish, and how to reduce the effects of roadway air pollution. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA researchers find associations between poor environmental quality and cancer; help scientists monitor and track algal blooms; EPA grantees investigate the links between community stressors and asthma; and EPA's M-Wiz app helps you navigate the world of materials management. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA researchers are conducting studies to better understand the links between Puerto Rico’s coral reefs; sampling streams across the United States for chemical contaminants; partnering with Clean Air Carolina in Charlotte, N.C., and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, N.C., to conduct citizen science air quality projects; and looking at how to increase the streams’ ability to adapt to theses excess nutrients. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA kicked off pilot program enabling select beekeepers to submit hive health reports and honey samples to EPA for analysis; announced a Wildland Fire Sensors Challenge; used NASA satellite data to measure changes in water availability; evaluated the benefits of green infrastructure; and publicly released the first external review draft of the Integrated Science Assessment for Oxides of Nitrogen, Oxides of Sulfur, and Particulate Matter-Ecological Criteria. Learn more.
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.
In this research update, EPA researchers are working to detect blue-green algae in the Ohio River; examining how killfish adapt to unlikely environments; and preparing to respond to natural and man-made disasters. Learn more.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)