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EPA Science Matters: November 20, 2018

Are you curious about the chemical commonly blamed for everyone’s post-Thanksgiving feast food coma, tryptophan? The jury might still be out over whether it’s the turkey or mashed potatoes that really makes you sleepy, but you can learn more about tryptophan, an α-amino acid, including its intrinsic properties and presence on chemical lists, through its page on the CompTox Chemicals Dashboard. If you’re more curious about how it might impact aquatic or terrestrial wildlife, you can use tryptophan as a search parameter on the ECOTOX Knowledgebase

EPA is asking for public input on draft toxicity assessments for GenX chemicals and PFBS, members of a larger group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a wide range of products because of their ability to repel water, grease, and oil. These draft assessments are part of EPA’s efforts to increase the amount of research and information that is publicly available on chemicals in the PFAS family.

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.

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. Last week, 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.

Do you know how to protect your health from wildfire smoke? Download EPA's Smoke Sense app to get information about air quality and preventative actions. 

EPA announced $1.7 million in funding to 16 small businesses across the country to develop new technologies that protect the environment while growing the American economy. The contracts are funded through EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Projects include development of a water filtration technology that can remove PFOS and PFOA from water and the creation of greener, degradable plastics with a high heat tolerance, produced from bio-based feedstock.