Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Country Mouse

By Kelsey Sollner

In my 21 years on the planet, this fall marks my first time living in a big city. Of course, I have visited – made day trips to Manhattan, spent weekends in Philly and been to Dade County. But this is the first time I’ve had a permanent address in a metropolis, and this is my first job in an office building.

I’m from a farming area in New Jersey and go to a college surrounded by more dirt than asphalt and more cows than people. I spent all summer working in an orchard, climbing ladders and tending to fruit trees. I essentially got paid to work out and be outdoors, not to mention the endless produce! Once it came time to go back to school and begin my internship, I began to get nervous about being indoors for long stretches of time. I’d miss the breeze and sunshine, I’d miss the flora and fresh air, and I’d miss the warblers and sparrows singing. And to be honest, I’d even miss the farm’s enormous compost heap and the way it smelled in incredible heat.

Now that I’ve been thrust into city life, it’s taken some getting used to. How does a ragamuffin from central Jersey blend in with the hip crowd of DC? My work uniform was a ratty tank top, shorts and sunglasses, none of these blazer/pencil skirt/heels ensembles. Of all the pests I used to deal with on a regular basis at the farm, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a cockroach up close. And I’ve never felt like a bigger tourist than when I had to consult my subway map four or five times to find out I was on the wrong train.

If I can’t have my fresh air, though, I’ll make the most out of this city stuff. I’ve been making a constant effort to stay connected to my new environment. I found the oasis that is Montrose Park and spent hours in its sun and shade. My roommate and I just went to a Nationals game, on one of the most pleasant Saturdays of the season. I can even bird watch from my balcony, albeit just some pigeons, but still. For someone used to being surrounded by nature, it’s a little comfort. I’m steadily moving from being overwhelmed to becoming much more comfortable here.

They might make a city mouse out of me yet.

About the author: Kelsey Sollner is a senior from Susquehanna University majoring in journalism. She works as an intern in the EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Lead in Lipstick

By Marcia Anderson

For us ladies, we may not think twice when putting on our favorite lipstick or getting a hair-straightening treatment to fight the frizziness, but exactly how safe are these beauty products? Truth is, these products may contain toxins such as formaldehyde (found in hair-straightening treatments) and heavy metals (such as arsenic and lead in lipstick) that are harmful to your health.

Lead is in lipstick either because the raw materials are contaminated with lead, or the pigment contains lead. Lead in lipstick is not new. In the 1990s, reports of analytical results from a commercial testing laboratory suggested that traces of lead in lipstick might be of concern. You could be paying a high and harmful price to get those ruby red lips each day.

A study completed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) in 2007 reported finding lead in most brands of lipsticks.  The amounts found in some brands are of concern. FDA scientists found lead in all of the 20 lipsticks they tested. Lead levels ranged from 0.09 ppm to 7.9 pm.

Some people may think, “how much harm can something that’s just going on my lips really cause?“ Lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels over time. Women swallow somewhere between three and nine pounds of lipstick over the course of their lifetime.

Unfortunately, on packages you will not see lead listed in its ingredients, but there are lists and other tips out there that can help when trying to find a safe shade to compliment your lips.  Stay away from products that say they are “not easy removable” or “longer lasting”. These lipsticks are not easy to “remove” because they contain more lead.

Don’t be overly concerned, however. There are a number of lipstick brands that have been tested and are found to be lead free. You can get plenty of information on these brands on the internet. And, here, in the New York Metropolitan area, you can find many of those brands at the corner drugstore.

Years ago, you could play with your mom’s makeup without her thinking they could be harmful. We now know that mom should exercise caution with her cosmetics. Our bodies store lead and having more lead in your system puts you at a greater risk of cancer and other health problems.  Remember, there is no safe lead level.

You may also want to look at your other cosmetics. The average woman applies 168 different chemicals to her face every single day. The average man applies only 85. But of the thousands of chemicals in today’s personal care products, only 11% have been tested for safety. What other toxic chemicals might be lurking in your cosmetics?

Concerned about lead in your environment? Go to www.epa.gov/lead , or call 311 in New York City or  the National lead hotline: 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

About the author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

The Outback

“Be very quiet, Heidi, and we might see some animals this morning.”  These are the words my father would tell me as he walked my older sister, Katie, and me to school.  Our local elementary school, Oscar Henry Anderson (OHA) Elementary School in Mahtomedi, Minnesota is surrounded by eleven acres of woods and prairie. Spending time in the woods with my father and sister are some of my best memories of elementary school.  On our morning walks we would find as many different plant species as we could and have contests to see who could pick out which bird was making each call. Things were constantly changing in the forest, and every day there would be something new to find. I want everyone to experience these things, this is what I had in mind when my dad, sister, and friends Andrew, Cole, Brennan and Davis, and I decided to create a nature playground for the children of OHA. We pulled gooseberry bushes, buck thorn, and barbed wire out of the area and constructed a natural barrier. We moved some logs that had been cut and pulled using the old style horse method into the area for the kids to play on.

I recently went back to OHA to ask the kids what they think about their new natural playground, called The Outback.  I sat down with Devon, who told me he likes going out there and building things.  I then talked to Johnny and Josh and asked them what their favorite place was, and Josh immediately answered that there is a tree stump that makes a perfect bench. I also chatted with Hailey, Eva, Alicia, and Zoe, and they all said that it was their favorite part of school. They told me the best part about The Outback is that everyone works together as a team and there is no fighting. They are accepting of each other and everyone is allowed to play. I think it is incredible that these kids are able to come together as one and have a good time.

The Outback is surrounded by a barrier of buckthorn and other branches so kids can’t wander off. It is near the school, yet secluded enough that the kids feel free. Overall the Outback teaches kids about the plants and animals that live near us and how to take care of the woods.  It inspires innovation and fosters creativity.

Heidi is a sophomore at Mahtomedi High School, Mahtomedi, MN, where she participates in cross country running, Nordic skiing, track, band and Eco Club. She enjoys being outside, especially fishing and hunting with her family and friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Science Matters: Protecting Growth and Development

To observe October as Children’s Health Month, we will periodically post Science Matters feature articles about EPA’s children’s health research here on the blog.  Learn more about EPA’s efforts to protect children’s health by going to www.epa.gov/ochp. 

Children's Health MonthNormal growth and development, from conception and throughout pregnancy, to childhood and adolescence, depends on hormones.  These chemical messengers are produced by the body’s endocrine system and regulate growth, maturation, and reproduction.  

Scientists have learned that some exposures to hormone-like substances—what toxicologists refer to as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)—can be disruptive to normal health and development, leading to potentially serious disease, reproductive issues, and other abnormalities later in life. EDCs can be found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, food from cans with certain kinds of liners, pesticides, and detergents.

Because their bodies and internal systems are still forming, developing babies, infants, and children can be particularly vulnerable to the adverse health effects of EDCs. Those risks can be compounded by the fact that, in proportion to their body size, babies and children drink, eat, and breathe more than adults and thus are likely to take in relatively more of these substances.

Protecting children and others from exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals has been an EPA priority since the 1990s, when scientists hypothesized that “humans and wildlife species have suffered adverse health effects after exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” as outlined in the paper Research Needs for the Risk Assessment of Health and Environmental Effects of Endocrine Disruptors: A Report of the U.S. EPA-sponsored Workshop, (Environmental Health Perspectives. 1996 August, 104(4)).

Young family plays in the park.Since then, EPA researchers and grantees in universities have worked to understand the potential risks of EDCs to human health and wildlife.  The work includes prioritizing chemicals for testing through EPA’s innovative Endocrine Disruptors Screening Program and developing models to predict the biological pathways that can lead to endocrine disruption. The work also includes assessing the cumulative risk of chemical mixtures found in food, products, and drinking water. This work on chemical mixtures is important because the combined effects , even at low concentrations, might be different than they would be for individual chemicals..

By developing the tools and information needed to understand EDCs and their potential impacts on human health, Agency researchers and their partners are helping to protect the health of children, adults, and wildlife. The knowledge from the research has a variety of important impacts: it is valuable to manufacturers so they can ensure the safety of their products; it provides information to expectant mothers so that they can avoid EDC exposures before and during pregnancy; it offers parents, public health professionals, and decision makers at EPA and elsewhere science-based data and tools to make informed choices that will protect children, adults, and wildlife.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Air Quality Resources

By Casey J. McLaughlin

Casey’s Take homes:

  • Air quality is important – it is both a national and Region 7 priority issue.
  • EPA has air quality data to help you make health decisions.

On my way into work, the other day I heard a great story on National Public Radio about an air-monitoring project called Hestia.  I found the story interesting for many reasons (they have a great YouTube video summary with LOTS of great visuals).   What really caught my attention was when I heard the guest say, “People look at these big giant spreadsheets in emissions accounting, and their eyes glaze over badly, but if they can see a color-coded map, if they can see a flyover view, people get engaged.”  (Scott Bernstein, head of the Center for Neighborhood Technology).

I think geospatial technology is fantastic and much more mainstream today (Thanks to online mapping and smart phones) than it was 10-15 years ago but the simple truth of “a picture is worth a 1000 words” holds even more truth when that picture is a map summarizing information.

An important component of EPA’s mission is to protect and improve air quality in order to avoid or mitigate the consequences of air pollution’s harmful effects. Air pollution can adversely affect critical functions of the atmosphere in many ways and EPA’s Administrator Jackson has listed improving air quality as a top priority.  EPA’s Air Quality Index (or AQS for Air Quality System) is an index for reporting daily air quality and provides citizens a way of easily understanding what local air quality means to your health.  The following additional sites provide access to data and other air related information:

  • The AIRNow Web site: The U.S. EPA, NOAA, NPS, tribal, state, and local agencies developed the AIRNow Web site to provide the public with easy access to national air quality information. The Web site offers daily AQI forecasts as well as real-time AQI conditions for over 300 cities across the US, and provides links to more detailed State and local air quality Web sites.
  • AirData: Access to monitored air quality data from EPA’s Air Quality System (AQS) Data Mart
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Outdoor Air page: CDC works closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide air quality data on the tracking network and to better understand how air pollution affects our health. On this network you will find information and data about the possible health effects of exposure to ozone and particulate matter (PM2.5).

Keep track of the air around your neighborhood by using data EPA gathers so you can make healthy air decisions.

Casey McLaughlin is a first generation Geospatial Enthusiast who has worked with EPA since 2003 as a contractor and now as the Regional GIS Lead. He currently holds the rank of #1 GISer in EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

What’s in Your Town’s Litter?

By Nancy Grundahl

Litter! Oh how I hate it! I hate it so much I decided to do something about it. I started picking it up. Every work day I take a bag with me and pick up litter on my walk home from the train station. I am always amazed at how much I find.

After a while I noticed a curious thing about the litter in the town where I live. Most of our litter is food-related: beverage cans, bottles and bottle caps, straws, candy and gum wrappers, take-out containers, plastic utensils, napkins… A distant second is paper, mainly ATM and store receipts and old mail that escaped from our paper recycling pickup on Mondays.

So, I searched the web and found, much to my surprise, that what I am finding is not unusual. Food-related waste makes up the highest percentage of litter in other places in the U.S. too. Here is a sample of what I found.

·    Northeast 2010 Litter Survey of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire Conducted for the American Beverage Association

o    “Miscellaneous paper and plastic (odd scraps of material) comprised the two largest components of litter; candy, snack wrappers, and fast food packaging together represented between 29 and 30 percent of litter; and beverage containers was similar, ranging from 5.6 percent to 7.9 percent.”

·    Clean Water Action – California

o    “Most of the products collected were food and beverage packaging: 48 percent food packaging, 19 percent beverage packaging, 15 percent non-packaging, 9 percent other packaging, 9 percent tobacco packaging.”

·    City of Hampton, Virginia

  • “Fast food, snack, tobacco, and other packaging dominated the types of litter that were larger than 4 inches in size – they were 46 percent of the total.”
  • “Main Types of Litter – Fast Food Waste 33 percent”
  • “The items most often found during litter cleanups are fast-food wrappers. The second-most-often found items are aluminum beer cans, followed very closely by soda cans.”

Have you ever thought about what’s in your town’s litter? The next time there is a cleanup day, go a step further and count and categorize the wastes you collect. You might even want to take some photos. Or, do as I have, start picking up litter on your walks and see what you find.

Why is this important? What you discover will be helpful when looking for the best approach to preventing the litter in the first place. When you figure out the sources, you’ll have a better idea of how to make it stop.

About the author: Nancy Grundahl has worked for the Philadelphia office of EPA since the mid-80’s. Nancy believes in looking at environmental problems in a holistic, multi-media way and is a strong advocate of preventing pollution instead of dealing with it after it has been created. Nancy also writes for the “Healthy Waters for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region” blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

CaPeCo: Three Years Later

By Brenda Reyes

A loud thump woke me up just past midnight three years ago on October 23, 2009.  A raging fire in the nearby tank farm and former refinery, known as CaPeCo, blazed for three days and became one of the worst environmental emergencies in Puerto Rico in the last decade.  Burned vegetation was the silent witness to the environmental catastrophe. That date changed the course of my professional career here at EPA.  Nowadays, there is a ”Before CaPeCo” and an “After CaPeCo” as I learned many new things when dealing with a major emergency.

I spent many days inside the facility in a small mobile office while the day saw co-workers and personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, contractors and the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board coming and going from the site.  Many hours were spent on on-site meetings trying to gather facts for all media outlets that covered the story from day one and many others visiting nearby communities, meeting with their leaders and government representatives.

At the beginning, progress wasn’t being  made at the pace needed.  Burned and collapsed tanks reaffirmed my beliefs, as I traveled Road #28, less than a mile from my house. Today, however, I can say that the fire and explosion are finally a distant memory as the facility is thriving and undergoing a major transformation.  The change is evident.  The collaboration between the new owners and our Agency has been steady, as they are in the last stages of demolition of the former refinery, which included asbestos abatement.  12,000 tons of scrap metal as well as asbestos material have been removed from the two and a half acre site where the refinery once stood. There are new tanks being built with emergency mitigation controls, including overfill alarms.  All butane, fuel oil, and liquid petroleum gas pipes have been inspected, repaired and have undergone hydrostatic tests.  Other projects in the facility include lead paint abatement and demolition of the older structures.

As I visited the facility with On-Scene Coordinator Christopher Jiménez a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much progress has been made in such a short time.  This doesn’t happen at all facilities that have undergone devastation and sometimes it is very hard to portray updates to communities and all those interested, when working with superfund sites, environmental emergencies or regulated facilities.  Sometimes that is the challenge I have as a public affairs officer and community relations specialist.  Here the change is evident…and I can appreciate it, from my office window at the new CEPD offices. It reminds me  that collaboration is an essential function in the work we do every day.

About the author:

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Semana Nacional de Prevención del Envenenamiento Causado por Plomo: Protegiendo la salud de nuestros niños empieza en casa.

Mi nuevo sobrino es todavía muy pequeño para agarrar  juguetes o gatear y explorar el suelo y las paredes de la casa.  Pero si su crecimiento diario es una indicación, ese día ya se acerca.  No podía imaginar que mi trabajo como asistente legal en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA por sus siglas en ingles) haría que piense en él con más frecuencia.  Sin embargo, es su cara la que veo mientras aprendo más acerca de cómo proteger a los niños de los peligros de la pintura a base de plomo.  De todas maneras, él está entre los más vulnerables a los peligros de esta pintura.
Como asistente legal en la EPA, espero ganar un mayor entendimiento del progreso de la EPA en resolver problemas ambientales.  Con cientos de miles de niños afectados por el envenenamiento causado por el plomo, yo diría que la EPA tiene la capacidad de resolver este problema.  No obstante, en realidad, el envenenamiento por plomo es 100 por ciento prevenible. Si usted vive en una casa construida antes de 1978, es bastante probable que esta casa contenga pintura a base de plomo.  Esta pintura puede gastarse con el tiempo, pelarse  y estar  al alcance de las manos de un niño, o convertirse  en polvo el cual se acumula en el suelo, marcos de ventanas, y otras superficies de su hogar.  Renovaciones pueden alterar la pintura a base de plomo y esparcir más polvo.  Pero usted puede prevenir que estos peligros afecten a su familia, limpiando frecuentemente las superficies de su hogar, manteniendo las superficies pintadas, haciendo que su casa sea inspeccionada por un inspector certificado para trabajar de una manera segura con el plomo, y renovando solamente con contratistas certificados para trabajar de una manera segura con el plomo.
Esta es la Semana Nacional de Prevención del Envenenamiento Causado por Plomo, una semana dedicada a incrementar la concientización acerca de los peligros causados por la pintura a base de plomo, especialmente en el hogar.  Esta semana se concentra en las muchas maneras en que los padres pueden reducir la exposición de sus niños al plomo y prevenir los efectos nocivos a la salud causados por éste.  Para empezar obtenga información acerca del plomo, o haga que su casa sea analizada.  Hasta podría pedir a su doctor que su niño reciba un análisis de sangre para ver si contiene plomo.
Previniendo el envenenamiento por el plomo puede ser simple y las consecuencias por no actuar son demasiado  terribles para ser ignoradas. Polvo contaminado con plomo puede atrasar el crecimiento del niño, inhibir su aprendizaje, y dañar su cerebro o sistema nervioso central.  Como estudiante de derecho, apasionada con el derecho ambiental y recursos naturales, uno aprende bastante acerca de las batallas cuesta arriba para lograr la protección ambiental donde las consecuencias a su salud están en juego.  Por el bien de mi sobrino, yo seguiré luchando cuesta arriba y espero que usted también.
Para mayor información acerca de la Semana Nacional de Prevención del Envenenamiento Causado por Plomo visite: http://go.usa.gov/YTFw.  Además visite nuestra página Web para información básica en español acerca del plomo.
Acerca de la Autora:  Jess Portmess es una asistente legal en la División del Programa  Nacional de Sustancias Químicas en la Oficina de Prevención de Polución y Sustancias Tóxicas de la EPA.  Se estará graduando de la Facultad de Derecho de American University en mayo de 2013.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: Keeping our Kids Healthy Starts at Home

By Jess Portmess

My new nephew is still too young to pick up toys or explore the floors and walls of the house on all fours. But if his daily growth is any indication, it’s not that far off. I didn’t imagine my clerkship with EPA could make me think of him more often than I already do. Yet, he’s the face I see as I learn more about how to protect children from lead-based paint hazards. He is, after all, among those who are the most sensitive to the dangers from lead-based paint.

As a law clerk with EPA, I hope to gain a better understanding of how EPA makes concrete strides in solving big environmental problems. With hundreds of thousands of children affected by lead poisoning, I’d say the “big” shoe fits. The inspiring and motivating reality is, however, that lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable. If you live in a home built before 1978, chances are it may have lead paint. That paint can wear over time, chipping away for a curious child’s hands or turning into dust that accumulates on the floor, window troughs, and other surfaces of your home. Renovations can disturb lead paint and spread more dust. But you can prevent these risks from affecting your family by regularly cleaning your home’s surfaces, maintaining painted surfaces, having your home inspected by a lead-safe certified professional, and renovating only with lead-safe certified contractors.

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about lead paint hazards, especially in the home. This week focuses on the many ways that parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects. To start, learn the facts about lead, or have your home tested. You could even ask your doctor to test your child for lead.

Preventing lead poisoning can be simple and the consequences of inaction are too terrible to ignore. Lead-contaminated dust can slow a child’s growth, inhibit his learning, and damage his brain or central nervous system. As a law student passionate about environmental law and natural resources, you learn a lot about uphill struggles where the stakes are high. For my nephew’s sake, I know I’ll keep climbing and I hope you do too.

For more information about National Lead Poisoning Prevention week visit

About the author: Jess Portmess is a law clerk in the National Program Chemicals Division of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. She will be graduating from American University Washington College of Law in May 2013.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

New Frog in New York City | In Search of the Richmond Ribbiter

In the wilds of New York City (photo: Seth Ausubel, EPA)

By Seth Ausubel

The air was chill and the skies leaden as our party slipped quietly through the thick woodland underbrush.  We soon reached a densely overgrown pond.  The still dark waters roiled as dozens of unseen creatures fled the pond’s edge at our approach.

An eerie calm beset the pond as we began a silent vigil.  Soon the chorus of alien clucks that had guided us toward our destination resumed.  Then, a ripple…a vague form in the murky waters… a pair of eyes.  There it was — the Richmond Ribbiter!

O.K., so the part I left out is that the pond is a mere twenty-five feet from the edge of a busy road, next to a gun club and stone mason yard in Staten Island, a.k.a. Richmond County, one of New York City’s five boroughs.  What is truly remarkable is that our quarry was a newly discovered species of leopard frog.

I was there that March morning of 2012 with my friends and fellow naturalists, Dave Eib, Mike Shanley and Seth Wollney, all native Staten Islanders.

You’re probably incredulous that a new species of frog has been discovered in New York City.  It is an extremely rare occasion when any new vertebrate species is discovered in a major population center.  But, in fact, while the existence of these frogs has been known, it was only recently shown that they are genetically distinct from the other leopard frog species in the region – the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), and the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia).  The new frog has not yet been described in scientific literature, nor has it even been named.  So for now I’m dubbing it…well, you know already.

While the Richmond Ribbiter looks very much like the other leopard frogs, its calls are quite distinct – a single “cluck” unlike the “chuckle” of the Southern Leopard Frog, and even less like the “snore” of the Northern Leopard Frog.  Seth Wollney has posted video and audio on his blog.  The calls of the other species can be found by following the links above.

Way back in 1936, Carl Kauffeld, the renowned herpetologist and Curator of the Staten Island Zoo, wrote that he thought there may be a third species of leopard frog in New York City.  But he never investigated further and the frog remained shrouded in obscurity.  Wollney, whose local knowledge is unparalleled, says he and others noticed the presence of an oddly singing frog a few years ago.  But it was the studies of Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University that identified the frog as a new species.

The range of the Richmond Ribbiter is still being investigated, but it is likely that only a small fraction of its former range still supports the frogs.  This shows the importance of habitat conservation, even in urban areas.

So, yes, there are wilds in New York City, and a unique frog.  Who knows what discoveries remain?

About the author: Seth Ausubel is Acting Chief of EPA Region 2’s Watershed Management Branch, and an avid birder and naturalist

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.