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EPA Science Matters Newsletter

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.


EPA Science Matters: August 28, 2018

This research update features some of the latest in EPA science. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: July 31, 2018

This research update features some of the latest in EPA science. 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.


EPA Science Matters: July 17, 2018

This research update features some of the latest in EPA science. 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.


EPA Science Matters: July 3, 2018

This research update features EPA research all across America. Learn more about how EPA is conducting research in communities around the country. 


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-fluoralkyl 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. 


EPA Science Matters: June 19, 2018

This research update features some of the latest in EPA science. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: June 5, 2018

This research update features some of the latest in EPA science. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: May 22, 2018

In this reaseach update, read about a newly developed way to remove ammonia from drinking water, how the "One Health" approach can help reduce the health effects of Harmful Algal Blooms, and the new data added to EPA's enviroatlas tool. 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 Science Matters: May 8, 2018

In this research update, EPA researchers developed new software to help city planners better understand the flows of water into, within, and out of their cities. This update also includes information about new funding to research strategies to detect and eliminate lead exposure in drinking water,  a suite of wildland fire resources that can help officials develop health risk communications strategies, and the recent success of a small business that received funding from EPA. 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.


EPA Science Matters: April 24, 2018

In this research update, EPA scientists use sophisticated computer models to track smoke plumes from wildfires. EPA researchers also look at why there may be a lack of young fish in the St. Louis River and examine the connection between wildfire smoke and emergency room visits. 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.


EPA Science Matters: April 10 2018

In this research update, EPA scientists test miniature sensors for monitoring air quality near wildfires.  Additionally, look inside some of EPA's labratory facilities and see how EPA partners with public health orginizations to advance the science that protects communities. Learn more.


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. 


EPA Science Matters: March 27, 2018

In this research update, EPA scientists provide instructions on buidling your own Village Green-like station. They also work with an air quality monitoring equipment company to evaluate and advance air sensor technologies, use a new way to track exposure to air pollition, and support the next generation of environmental scientists. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: March 13, 2018

In this research update, EPA scientists work to understand the potenial hazards of exposure to PFAS chemicals. They also look at the health effects of wildfire smoke and use a new method to test household products for chemicals. 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 communitiesmake 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.


EPA Science Matters: February 27, 2018

In this research update, EPA scientists are working to help communities make informed decisions about PFAS in the environment. They also worked on a project that provides real-time water quality monitoring data to the Baltimore, Maryland, community; examined the links between greenspaces and healthy communities; encouraged the next generation of scientists; and released two new tools that enable citizen scientists to more effectively collect and interpret air quality data in their communities. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: February 13, 2018

In this research update focusing on Heart Health Research, EPA scientists looked at whether eating certain foods or taking supplements might protect against the onslaught of air pollution. They also found that living near roadways can have an impact on heart health and they worked with CDC to develop a course for healthcare professionals called Particle Pollution and Your Patients' Health.  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 recyling 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.


EPA Science Matters: January 30, 2018

In this research update,  EPA researchers work with San Francisco and other state and local governments around the country to make sure we can reuse water safely; EPA researcher Wayne Cascio discusses health effects of smoke from wildfires and describes needed research.;  and the Stormwater Calculator gets and update. 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. 


EPA Science Matters: January 16, 2018

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. 


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.


EPA Science Matters: December 19, 2017

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.


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. 


EPA Science Matters: December 5, 2017

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. 


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 Science Matters: November 21, 2017

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 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.


Park in Portland, OregonEPA Science Matters: November 7, 2017

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.


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.


Silhouette of children in a fieldEPA Science Matters: October 25, 2017

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. 


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.


bloom on lake shoreEPA Research: October 10, 2017

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.


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.


Image of wildfire and smoke in a fieldEPA Research: National Preparedness

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.


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. 


Water flowing out of a drain pipeEPA Research: September 12, 2017

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. 


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.


Parking lot in Fort Riley, KansasEPA Research: August 29, 2017

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.  


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.


A person applies sunscreen to their right shoulder.EPA Research: August 15, 2017

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.


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.


close up image of algae in waterEPA Research: August 1, 2017

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. 


Google street view car with air pollution monitor on topEPA Research: July 18, 2017

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. 


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. 


Image of corn field being harvestedEPA Research: June 20, 2017

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'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.


Image of a wildfireEPA Research: June 13, 2017

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.


chemical sampling in well plateEPA Research: June 6, 2017

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.   


EnviroAtlas map of MinnesotaLinking Minnesota Land Cover Changes to Drinking Water Treatment

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.


Image of cars in large traffic jamEPA Research: May 24, 2017

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.


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. 


lightbulb with recycling logoEPA Research: May 9, 2017

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.


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. 


Aerial view of Guanica Bay watershed in Puerto RicoEPA Research: April 25, 2017

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. 


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. 


Honey bee sitting on a flowerEPA Research: April 11, 2017

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. 


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. 


Close up view of algae in waterEPA Research: March 28, 2017

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. 


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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