Monthly Archives: November 2012

Drilling for Water – Underwater

By Sean Sheldrake, Rob Pedersen, and Alan Humphrey

In our previous blog posts we’ve talked about how EPA diving scientists support cleanups in the nation’s waterways through collection of samples.  In this post, we’ll talk about miniature wells called “piezometers” that we and other divers place underwater. 

What is a piezometer and what is it doing at the bottom of the river?

Photo 1: close up of a piezometer.

A piezometer (see photo 1) is a miniature well that lets us sample shallow groundwater—essentially a metal tube with a filter on the bottom to allow water to flow in, but keeping most sediment out. They can be installed both on land and underwater. 

But why on earth would someone underwater want to drill for more water?!  We do it to study pollution.

Groundwater that is contaminated by an upland industrial site can discharge into rivers and sounds.  By the time that contaminated groundwater mixes with the water column, the pollution is difficult to detect.  Worse yet, concentrations are far higher in the seafloor or river bottom, potentially harming critical links at the beginning of the food chain.  If levels of groundwater contamination aren’t measured accurately and in the correct place, a big piece of the pollution puzzle could be missed.

How do you collect a well sample at the bottom of an estuary? Here’s what it looks like when we work:

Tending the diver and groundwater sample tubing is a tough job!

Photo 2: preparing piezometer and tubing from the surface.

A surface supplied diver (see photo 2) takes the metal piezometer from the boat to the bottom while spooling out tubes that connects it to the boat or dive platform.

Don’t get tangled! Once underwater (see photo 3), the diver must be very careful to keep all their lines from being tangled; the slightest misstep and the sample line running to the surface could be pulled out, requiring the process to be restarted. 

Photo 3: EPA divers work carefully so they don't get tangled.

(Also see our previous post: Underwater with EPA Divers.)

With the tubing placed, water is pumped through the tube to the surface and checked (see photo 4) on board against samples taken from upland wells to ensure the right kind of sample is being taken. We pump water for the sample for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the rate at which water will flow through the sediments. Then it’s time to move to the next spot. 

Photo 4: EPA staff collecting a sample.

With the data we collect, cleanup managers can determine whether groundwater and sediments require a cleanup, and once it’s started, whether it’s protecting the water.

For more information on EPA’s groundwater collection techniques, underwater, see: Adaptation of Groundwater Evaluation and Sampling Tools for Underwater Deployment.

Read more about the latest in EPA scientific diving at facebook.com/EPADivers.

About the authors:  Sean Sheldrake is part of the Seattle EPA Dive unit and is also a project manager working on the Portland Harbor cleanup in Oregon.  Sean Sheldrake and Alan Humphrey both serve on the EPA diving safety board, responsible for setting EPA diving policy requirements.  In addition, they both work to share contaminated water diving expertise with first responders and others.  Rob Pedersen is an EPA diver with decades of experience in environmental sample collection, and has also served on the EPA safety board. 

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

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Recycling as Ritual – Part I

By David Stone

We rode the rough back roads through the Sonoran Desert in silence with the truck’s bed full of empty, brown glass bottles. They had been easy to collect, thousands lay scattered under the creosote bushes and saguaros, more numerous than rocks at that “party site,” as he called it.

Richard guided the truck through a maze of washed out roads and sometimes along the flat natural washes. He suddenly gave a short laugh and shot me a sideways glance.

“What did you feel out there?”

I was new to the reservation at the time and still unfamiliar with the O’odham ways of thinking and speaking. The question did not make sense to me. We were simply collecting bottles as a source of glass for my recycling project. The bottles would be crushed into aggregate for building products. Before setting out collection bins in the towns we gathered them on our own from the desert. There were plenty out there and Richard knew where to find them.

Almost all are the same, quart-sized beer bottles known as “Qs”, the standard alcoholic drink on the reservation. Alcoholism is prevalent and that is the generator for our caches of glass. I pretended not to notice but pretense is obvious to him and attracts his attention.

“What kind of spirit did you feel there?” he said and looked at me again to see how it registered.

I told him that I did not know what he meant and asked him to tell me what he felt.

“It was a dark spirit. I felt it and it was dark. When I picked up a bottle I wondered about the person who had drunk from it. I wondered about their life, about the bad life path they were on, like I was once. I could feel the pain still in the bottle and I prayed for them.”

After that had sunk in, I asked if what we were doing was good. Should we be going out there? He said without hesitation that we should go, it was good, we were taking something dark and turning it into something strong.

“You see broken glass, David. I see broken dreams. You want to recycle the glass. I want to recycle the broken dreams.”

Bringing in money for jobs, so desperately needed on the rez, is hard for anyone to reject. Toward that goal I wrote grant applications and we were awarded one from the EPA’s Tribal program. Though a white outsider, I became the Tohono O’odham Community College’s official “ecoAmbassador.” My proposal was to recycle glass and mix it with steel dust and carbon dioxide to produce locally-made building products and structures, but this was not a simple task. [To be continued tomorrow…]

About the author: David Stone is an instructor and EPA’s Tribal ecoAmbassador at Tohono O’odham Community College in Sells, Arizona. He has a PhD in Environmental Science.

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.

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Consejos para el invierno: No invite a las plagas

Para Lina Younes

A medida que se acerca el invierno, muchos de nosotros estamos tratando de crear un entorno cálido y acogedor para nuestra familia y amistades. Sin embargo, hay algunas pequeñas criaturas para las cuales no queremos darle la bienvenida a pesar de que estén intentando refugiarse en nuestros hogares.  ¿A cuáles criaturas me refiero? ¡Las indeseables! Las plagas comunes como ratas, ratones e insectos que invaden nuestros hogares.

¿Entonces, cómo prevenimos que estas plagas busquen aposento en nuestros hogares? ¿Qué hacemos para prevenir una infestación?

•    Primer consejo: Establezca barreras para que las plagas no entren a su casa o apartamento.

Cuando las temperaturas bajan, las plagas buscan lugares calurosos para sobrevivir los meses fríos. Selle todos los lugares por donde puedan entrar y esconderse. Selle alrededor de las puertas e instale cepillos especiales para que no puedan entrar por debajo de la puerta cerrada. Use macilla para sellar grietas alrededor de las puertas, ventanas y gabinetes. Use lana de acero o cobre para sellar alrededor de las tuberías y cubrir huecos. Cabe señalar que el sellar alrededor de puertas y ventanas también le ayudará a reducir su factura de calefacción durante el invierno.

•    Segundo consejo: Elimine el desorden de papeles, revistas, periódicos y cajas amontonados.

A las plagas le encanta el desorden porque sirve como un refugio ideal para acampar y multiplicarse durante los fríos meses de invierno.

•    Tercer consejo: ¡No les dé ni una pizca de comer o gota de beber!

Mientras dudo de que nosotros a propósito le sirvamos una cena a estas criaturas indeseables, quizás muchos no somos conscientes de que las migas, líquidos derramados, vajilla sucia que dejamos al descubierto por la noche sea encima de la mesa o el fregadero básicamente sirven como imanes de plagas mientras dormimos plácidamente.

•    Cuarto consejo: Repare las goteras y filtraciones.  No deje que el agua se acumule en su hogar. El agua acumulada de tuberías que estén con filtraciones, de los tiestos, o los platos de comida de nuestras mascotas atraen a las plagas como los roedores, cucarachas y otros insectos.  La humedad creada por las goteras y filtraciones podría producir moho, el cual ocasiona numerosos problemas de salud.
Espero que estos consejos hayan sido de su utilidad y le ayuden a crear un entorno poco acogedor para las plagas. Sencillamente si no encuentran un ambiente ameno, irán a otro lugar a pasar el invierno o cualquier temporada del año.

¡Si pese a sus mejores esfuerzos todavía tiene un problema de insectos o roedores, use productos plaguicidas de manera sensata y sobre todo, lea la etiqueta primero!

Acerca de la autora: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE.UU. desde el 2002 y se desempeña, en la actualidad, como portavoz hispana de la Agencia, así como enlace de asuntos multilingües de EPA. Además, ha laborado como la escritora y editora de los blogs en español de EPA durante los pasados cuatro años. Antes de unirse a la Agencia, dirigió la oficina en Washington, DC de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales a lo largo de su carrera profesional en la Capital Federal.

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.

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Persevering in Sandy’s Wake

By Sophia Kelley

Hurricane Sandy is the first emergency response that I have been involved with since coming to the EPA and the experience has given me a new appreciation for the level of commitment and dedication of my colleagues. We, like thousands of others in the New York/New Jersey area, are continuing our efforts to recover from the impacts of the super storm. While all of us have been affected to some degree, EPA’s on-scene coordinators and other emergency responders reported to work and spent long days helping others rather than attending to their own homes that may have been damaged or lacked power. In addition, they often face hazardous situations while assessing chemical or oil spills and abandoned fuel tanks.

In emergency situations, the EPA typically works in collaboration with the lead organization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with state and local governments to help protect public health and the environment before, during and after the event. From overflight surveys of the storm-damaged areas to supervising emergency scuba operations repair of damaged equipment at a wastewater treatment plant, the EPA has been involved in Sandy recovery efforts from all angles. For daily updates on our work, see: http://epa.gov/sandy/response.html.

View of a typical sand pile stored at Jacob Riis Park in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

My role has been more behind the scenes as I am assigned to communication efforts organized out of our response center in Edison, New Jersey. But last Friday I had the opportunity to visit Jacob Riis Park in Queens where the city is staging an enormous amount of the hurricane wreckage in what used to be the parking lot. Between two staggering towers of fetid debris, a battered green sign states, “This Way to the Beach.” A year ago I visited that very beach with my friend and played in the sand with her two little girls. I wonder if we’ll be able to return next year.

Now the sand is piling up in the parking lot. The storm deposited enormous quantities of sand in city streets. The city has cleared it and has possible plans for its beneficial reuse. Rather than simply carting it away with the other debris to a landfill, the idea is to sift the sand and then potentially use it at other locations. The EPA is assisting the city by sampling the sand to make sure it meets the criteria for reuse.

Since the storm the EPA has also been collecting household hazardous waste in the New York area. Crews are canvassing flood-impacted neighborhoods and will continue to pick up common household items such as paints, pesticides and household cleaners for separate management and disposal. Preventing such dangerous chemicals from mixing with the other trash is important for long-term disposal of the rest of the storm-related material.

Find out more about our household hazardous waste collection in NYC, visit: http://epa.gov/sandy/hazardouswastepickup.html.

If you have questions related to EPA’s work after Hurricane Sandy, please submit them in the comment section below or call our hotline, 1.888.283.7626.

About the author: Sophia is a public affairs specialist in her first year of the Environmental Careers Program. She has lived in Canada, Texas, Chicago, Poland, Central America, and now resides in Brooklyn.  Sophia has an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Before joining EPA, she worked as a freelance writer, an itinerant teacher, and at a newspaper in Costa Rica.

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.

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Winter Tips: An Uninviting Home

By Lina Younes

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español... ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

As the winter season is about to begin, many of us wish to create a warm and welcoming home environment for our family and friends. However, there are some little creatures we don’t want to roll out the welcome mat for, however they are attempting to seek refuge in our houses at this very moment.  What creatures am I referring to? The unwanted ones! Common household pests like rodents, creepy crawling bugs and the like.

So how can we prevent these pests from settling in your home? What can you do to prevent an infestation?

  • Tip number one: Set up barriers so pests cannot get into your house or apartment.

As temperatures start to drop, pests are looking for warm places to survive the cold months. Close off places where they can enter and hide. Seal around the doors and install door sweeps to prevent them from coming in through the bottom of the door. Caulk cracks and crevices around cabinets or baseboards. Use steel wool to fill spaces around pipes. Cover any holes with wire mesh.

  • Tip number two: Remove clutter such as stacks of paper, newspapers, magazines and boxes.

Clutter is a very appealing refuge for unwanted pests. Cluttered items create a warm setting where these pests can camp out and multiply during the cold winter months.

  • Tip number three: Don’t give these pests any food or water.

While I highly doubt that we purposely want to serve these unwanted creatures a meal at our table, we might not be aware that the crumbs, spills, or dirty dishes that we leave overnight in the kitchen sink serve basically as pest magnets while we are in deep slumber!

  • Tip number four: Fix leaky plumbing. Don’t let water accumulate anywhere in your home.

Water from leaky plumbing, plant trays, and even pet dishes attracts pests like rodents, cockroaches and other bugs. Moisture coming from leaks can also produce mold which causes a whole different set of health issues.

Hope these simple tips help you to create an unwelcoming setting for pests. Frankly, if they find a more welcoming environment, they simply will go elsewhere for the winter or any time of year.

If in spite of all your best efforts, you still have a bug problem? Use pesticide products wisely and always, read the label first!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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.

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Scientist at Work: Dr. Swinburne A.J. Augustine


Dr. Swinburne A. J. Augustine (Jason), Ph.D. is an EPA Research Microbiologist/Immunologist. His research is aimed at developing and applying rapid, cost-effective and multiplexed immunoassays to determine and/or measure human exposures to environmental pathogens using antibodies in human saliva as biomarkers of exposure. He is a member of the American Association of Immunologists and the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Augustine also served in the U.S. Army.

How does your science matter?

Every day, we are exposed to a myriad of harmful environmental (airborne, food-borne, and waterborne) organisms. Sometimes they make us sick but more often than not, our immune system protects us from these pathogens. My research uses antibodies in human saliva to measure levels of exposure to environmental pathogens. Epidemiologists use this data to determine if the levels of exposure are high enough to be harmful to humans. This information helps inform Agency decisions on what measures should be taken to protect human health. My research partners and I are analyzing multiple pathogens simultaneously, which saves EPA time and money.

If you could have dinner with any scientist, past or present, who would it be and what would you like to ask them about?

I’d like to have dinner with Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. I’d ask him what inspired him to invent the microscope and what is the secret to its construction?

What do you like most about your research?

I really enjoy the collaboration with a range of scientists including epidemiologists, virologists, microbiologists, immunologists and engineers. We work together to tackle tough water quality, sustainability and exposure questions in order to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

To keep reading about Dr. Augustine, click here.

For more Scientists at Work profiles, click here.

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

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A Green Rest Area

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lina Younes

Haga clic en la imagen para unirse a la conversación en nuestro blog en español… ¡No olvide de suscribirse!

This past weekend I was walking around Allen Pond Park in the City of Bowie enjoying the beautiful autumnal day. During my walk, I was admiring the migratory birds that had stopped along their yearly trek to warmer surroundings. There were many in the pond, flying, bathing, eating and the like. Luckily, around the Bowie area we have plenty of trees, waterways, and settings that are welcoming to birds and nature’s creatures.

While a visit to a park is a great way to connect with nature in an urban area, you can actually create an environment in your own garden that can be equally inviting to birds and pollinators all year round.  You can achieve this objective through greenscaping techniques that integrate pest management practices and planting native shrubs and trees that will be inviting for birds and wildlife through the seasons.

Certain evergreen shrubs and trees will produce small fruits during the fall at a time when migratory birds in the Northern Hemisphere are starting their journey south. While other flowering plants and trees will produce needed food for birds, pollinators and other wildlife during the spring and summer months.

By planting a variety of native annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, you will have plants that will provide food and shelter to birds and wildlife for their basic needs. I’m including a GreenScapes Seasonal Planner that may help you to incorporate greenscaping practices into your lawn and garden care. Basically, let nature do the work!

Have you seen any interesting birds in your area lately? As always, we love to hear from you. Feel free to share ideas. To share photos using Flickr you could participate in our photographic State of the Environment project.  We would love to see them.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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.

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Are Mushrooms the new Styrofoam™?

By Gavin McIntyre

I started my career in advanced biomaterials after recognizing a problem that faces anyone who purchases items on the Internet, from frozen food to consumer electronics. Once you open your package, what do you do with all the bulky foam that’s not easily recycled?

Plastics and foams are ubiquitous in our everyday lives and serve a valuable role in many industries. But these materials are predominately derived from fossil fuels and most are not compostable. This creates a real problem when these materials are used in short-term applications like packaging, where their useful life lasts months at best. This is a concern for many municipalities since non-compostable synthetics continue to accumulate and fill landfills beyond their capacity.

Our goal was to develop compostable materials that are not derived from fossil fuels and do not require an exorbitant amount of energy to manufacture. In seeking to design an alternative, we took advantage of domestic waste streams that are abundant and rapidly renewable. These raw materials fit into nature’s recycling system and are beneficial to the environment once their useful lifecycle is complete.

Today our biomaterials replace the plastic foams used in the protective packaging and construction industries. Our technology uses the vegetative tissue from mushrooms, a vast network of unicellular filaments known as mycelium, as a natural adhesive to bind agricultural byproducts into a robust, foam-like material.

Our products are grown to the desired shape in just five days, and all the energy for growing the fungus comes from the agricultural waste. But most importantly these materials are safe (styrene was recently deemed a carcinogen), entirely home compostable, and comparable in cost to plastic foams.

Compostable packing for wine bottles.

A friend of mine, Eben Bayer, and I started Ecovative in 2007 right out of college to challenge this synthetic material paradigm. We needed a lot of support to get our nascent technology off the lab bench and into the market place. As two mechanical engineers, we first solicited the help of mycologist (mushroom biologist) Sue Van Hook.

We applied for an EPA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant to fund our research, which was awarded in early 2009. This Phase 1 award allowed us to optimize fungal strains and agricultural wastes necessary to approach potential customers. Today we operate two manufacturing facilities in upstate New York with 70 employees.  We will be opening two additional facilities in the U.S. over the next two years with a commercial partner, adding many new jobs to the economy. Everyday we come to work we leave satisfied that the products we literally grow offer a “green” alternative for packaging.

So hopefully next time you unbox you new computer you can put the packaging in your garden rather than sending it off to a landfill.

About the Author: Gavin McIntyre was the Principle Investigator under a series of Small Business Innovative Research grants awarded by the US EPA between 2009 and 2012. McIntyre’s research focuses on the development of novel materials and processes that emulate nature using agricultural byproducts and fungal mycelium to provide low cost alternatives to synthetics such as plastics.

And for more information on how EPA supports research for innovative environmental solutions and “green” jobs, read: Investing in a Sustainable Future.

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

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Happy Meleagris gallopavo Day!

By Jeffery Robichaud

It is nearly Thanksgiving and that can mean only one thing.  Well yeah of course, people camped out overnight in front of Big Box stores to save twenty bucks on a Blu-Ray player…but I was thinking Turkey.  This time of year Turkey is big business, and I always seem to get a call from my folks that involves them asking did you get your Turkey yet?  Everywhere you look there are stories and facts about turkeys.  Heck as I type this, my wife and kids are heading over to pick up their race packets for the “Turkey Trot”. 

But rather than pay homage to the bird that many of us Gobble up, I thought I’d talk about its not so distant cousin and pass the wild turkey around the proverbial table.  My family and I live on top of a ridge with woods and a creek behind us and darned if we don’t get visited by wild turkeys about this time every year.  They like to hang out in the neighbor’s yard and meander back down the hill.  We only see them occasionally, but they must be frequent guests because our high strung dog barely raises his head anymore. 

Over the past several months we’ve had several blog posts about our Conservation Focus Areas which incorporate concepts of vertebrate richness and conserving natural areas that are important for sustaining species diversity.  When I looked into the range of wild turkeys I was actually pretty surprised.  In fact spotting them in my backyard here in Missouri isn’t quite that rare of an occurrence.  According to the National Wild Turkey Federation the estimated 5.3 million Eastern Wild Turkeys can be found pretty much everywhere in my home state of Missouri (and as I can attest even in that white spot around Kansas City where none are shown).

But I can’t leave my blog without sharing with you your compulsory Turkey Trivia.  Last week my family and I were in San Diego for a bit of a vacation.  While on the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Tram ride our tour guide was filling our heads full of facts.   Traversing a stretch without animals, she shared how groups of animals are called by different names… a pride of lions, a band of gorillas, a herd of elephants, and my personal favorite…an asylum of loons.  All of which got me thinking, what do you call a group of turkeys?  Come to find out it’s a either a gang or rafter of turkeys.   Seems fitting to call them a gang since my two boys and their gang of friends often strike me as nothing but a bunch of turkeys.  Now you too can impress your friends by checking out some other names for groups of animals here, and be ostentatious at your turkey day gathering by sharing that it is an ostentation of peacocks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division.  On Thursday he will be rooting for Washington since Dallas is only a game behind his beloved Seahawks for a wildcard spot.   

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.

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Reach for the Blue label on Black Friday

Una Song

By: Una Song

Every family has their own ways of celebrating the holidays, and my family is no different. At our Thanksgiving dinner, we will have all the usual fixings: turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.  But being Korean, we’ll also have kimchi (pickled cabbage), jap chae (a noodle dish with vegetables and beef), and mandoo (Korean version of wontons).

Another Thanksgiving tradition of mine is seeing an action movie with my cousins after dinner and then shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving. When I was younger, we would go to the department stores and look for the best deals on sweaters, ties and scarves. Now I find myself increasingly spending more time looking for electronics.  I am not alone.  According to the Consumer Electronics Association’s Holiday Gift Guide, technology gifts like tablet computers, smartphones, digital TVs and cameras, and video game systems once again top many wish lists.

Those who want to do good by the environment can choose electronics that use less energy by looking for EPA’s blue ENERGY STAR label as they do their holiday shopping.  The ENERGY STAR label helps consumers easily identify products that are energy efficient, and it can be found on over 65 product categories, including TVs, computers, printers and other electronics.

Hot products like soundbars and speaker systems for MP3 players are great gift ideas and they are covered by the ENERGY STAR program.  Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR provide the same functionality as standard models, but use less energy because they are more efficient in all usage modes:  sleep, idle, and on.  If every TV, DVD player, and home theatre system purchased in the U.S. this year were ENERGY STAR qualified, we would save more than $260 million and prevent more than 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 300,000 cars.

So when you start making your shopping list this year, look for the ENERGY STAR logo and do something good for the environment this holiday season.

Una Song works for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and is focused on marketing ENERGY STAR consumer electronics.  She looks forward to the Thanksgiving food coma every year.

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.

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