It All Starts with Science

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickto-go coffee cup with research recap graphic

You know what would go great with that pumpkin spice latte? Reading about the latest in EPA science!

Indoor Chemical Exposure Research
Many cleaning products, personal care products, pesticides, furnishings, and electronics contain chemicals known as semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs). The compounds are released slowly into the air and can attach to surfaces or airborne particles, allowing them to enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin.  Because SVOCs have been associated with negative health effects, EPA is funding research to learn more about their exposure and how we can reduce it. Learn more about this research in the blog Indoor Chemical Exposure: Novel Research for the 21st Century.

Empowering a Community with Scientific Knowledge
EPA researchers are working with a small community in Puerto Rico to install and maintain low-cost air monitoring devices. These devices will help community members analyze local pollutant levels and better understand the local environmental conditions. Learn more about the project in the blog Air Sensors in Puerto Rico: Empowering a Community with Scientific Knowledge.

Navigating Towards a More Sustainable Future
With the help of a smartphone, navigating from point A to point B is easier than ever. EPA is bringing that kind of convenience to environmental decision making with the release of Community-Focused Exposure Risk and Screening Tool (C-FERST), an online mapping tool. The tool provides access to resources that can help communities and decision makers learn more about their local environmental issues, compare conditions in their community with their county and state averages, and explore exposure and risk reduction options. Learn more about the tool in the blog C-FERST: A New Tool to Help Communities Navigate toward a Healthier, More Sustainable Future.

EPA Researchers at Work
EPA scientist Joachim Pleil is the EPA “breath guy” and was involved with the founding of the International Association of Breath Research and the Journal of Breath Research. He started off developing methods for measuring volatile organic carcinogens in air, and then progressed to linking chemical biomarkers to absorption, metabolism and elimination by analyzing human blood, breath, and urine. Meet EPA Scientist Joachim Pleil!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

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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Indoor Chemical Exposure: Novel Research for the 21st Century

By Meridith M. Fry, Ph.D.

While it is widely known that nearly every consumer product contains chemicals, have you ever wondered what chemicals lurk inside your home or office building?  Semivolatile organic compounds (SVOCs) are chemicals found indoors in the air and on surfaces that come from cleaning products, personal care products, pesticides, furnishings, and electronics. They are released slowly into the air and can attach to surfaces or airborne particles, allowing them to enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin.  Because SVOCs can persist indoors for weeks to years, they also may contribute to prolonged human exposure. In fact, individuals in the US have measureable levels of more than 100 SVOCs in their body at any given time.

cleaning equipment isolated on white backgroundThe health effects from exposure to SVOCs vary depending on the particular SVOC, the length of exposure, and personal susceptibility. SVOCs have been associated with allergies, asthma, endocrine and thyroid disruption, reproductive toxicity, and fetal and child development delays. Given the significance of these health effects, we’re funding research to learn more about SVOC exposure and how we can reduce it.

Through our Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Grants for New Methods in 21st Century Exposure Science, researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the University of Michigan are making great strides in developing new methods for measuring indoor exposure to SVOCs:

  • A new, simple method has been developed by researchers from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to determine vapor pressure, an important yet uncertain chemical property of SVOCs. Vapor pressure is a measure of the tendency of these chemicals to escape (from a liquid or solid) into the air.  With better vapor pressure estimates, our understanding of how SVOCs move indoors will greatly improve.
  • Researchers from the University of Michigan are also developing a novel, portable device to rapidly measure hundreds of SVOCs indoors. This research has already spurred applications for three new patents and resulted in four peer-reviewed publications.  Milestones include the development of a micro-photoionization detector (PID) to identify which chemicals are present in the air, a miniaturized helium discharge PID that also offers rapid measurement, low power consumption, and a fast warm-up time, and an automated, portable gas chromatography system to measure chemicals in water.  These new instruments can be easily carried in the field and used on-site, revolutionizing current measurement technology which tends to be bulky and non-portable.

The research and findings from these STAR grants will continue to shape exposure science in the 21st Century, and increase our knowledge about SVOCs and how they affect our everyday lives.  STAR grantees from the University of California Davis, Duke University, and University of California San Francisco also are making substantial contributions to our understanding of SVOC exposure such as developing new methods to measure SVOCs in indoor dust, exposures in children, and exposures in pregnant women.  We are eager to continue sharing these groundbreaking achievements as they become available.

References:

Weschler, C.J. and W.W. Nazaroff, Semivolatile organic compounds in indoor environments. Atmospheric Environment, 2008. 42(40): p. 9018-9040.

Xu, Y. and J. Zhang, Understanding SVOCs. ASHRAE Journal, 2011. 53(12): p. 121-125.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Indoor Environment Group, SVOCs and Health, 2016. Available: https://iaqscience.lbl.gov/voc-svocs

About the Author:  Meridith Fry is an Environmental Engineer and Project Officer in EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research, Chemical Safety for Sustainability Research Program.

 

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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Air Sensors in Puerto Rico: Empowering a Community with Scientific Knowledge

By Christina Burchette

Drop a stone in a placid lake and you’ll notice that the impact of stone hitting water creates a ripple effect that spreads outward in gentle, incremental waves. It is a quiet but powerful image of something we all know to be true: a small act can generate great significance over time.

EPA researchers Ron Williams and Maribel Colón hope to start a ripple effect in Tallaboa-Encarnación, a small community that sits along the Southern Coast of Puerto Rico. Williams, Colón, and EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division will work with local community action group DISUR (Desarrollo Integral del Sur) to install and maintain low-cost air monitoring devices in Tallaboa-Encarnación. These devices  will help community members analyze local pollutant levels and better understand the local environmental conditions.

aerial view of the community

The Tallaboa/Encarnación community in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico was selected for this project and has an interest in collecting environmental data to support environmental awareness.

Researchers are currently building the community’s air monitors in EPA’s Research Triangle Park laboratory. The rectangular devices are about ten inches wide and will collect data on two common air pollutants: total volatile organic compounds (tVOC), which come from sources like vehicle exhaust, and fine particle pollution (PM2.5), which is emitted from motor vehicles, smokestacks, forest fires, and other sources that involve burning.

Once the devices are installed in the area, which is near a highway and several industrial facilities, community members and members of DISUR will participate in a day-long training using EPA’s Air Sensor Toolbox for Citizen Scientists to learn how to use the devices to collect, validate, and summarize environmental data.

Now more than ever, lower-cost air sensors are making air pollution monitoring citizen-accessible. People all over the world are collecting and analyzing local data to better understand air pollution in their communities and to make choices to protect their health. Our researchers’ involvement in the Tallaboa-Encarnación community project is especially important because the community would not have otherwise had access to these types of air monitoring tools and resources.

The small act of installing air monitoring sensors in such a remote community is about more than new air quality data. A community being able to take the fate of their health and environment into their own hands through scientific discovery is an amazing achievement—one that could create significant ripples in the pond of citizen science.

Learn more about this project by viewing our citizen science air monitoring in Puerto Rico fact sheet.

About the Author: Christina Burchette is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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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C-FERST: A New Tool to Help Communities Navigate Toward a Healthier, More Sustainable Future

By Aaron Ferster

The proliferation of smartphones and mapping applications has made navigation a lot easier than it used to be. Getting from point A to point B usually requires little more than plugging in a distant address and then following a calm, generic voice as it calls out turn-by-turn directions. You can adjust your route, call up pit stops for food or gas en route, or even find alternative destinations on the fly.

My colleagues here at EPA are working to bring that kind of convenience and ease of use to environmental decision making and protecting public health. I’m thrilled to share that they recently reached a major milestone in that direction with the release of the Community-Focused Exposure Risk and Screening Tool, or C-FERST for short (we pronounce it “see-first”).

screen shot of the tool. a satellite image of a neighborhood.

C-FERST helps you map your local community.

C-FERST is an online mapping tool that provides access to resources for helping communities and decision makers learn more about their local environmental issues, compare conditions in their community with their county and state averages, and explore exposure and risk reduction options. Local maps are a key component, helping users gain both a lay of the land and a perspective for plotting out how environmental conditions and sources of pollution might change from one neighborhood to the next. In addition, the rich tool includes reports, fact sheets, links to other environmental and public health tools, citizen science resources, information about other community projects, and structured guides to help communities plan their projects to assess public and environmental health conditions. There’s even a digital community forum where you can ask other users for help or participate in discussions.

C-FERST is intended to serve the needs of a broad range of users, including the general public, academic and nonprofit institutions, environmental and public health professionals, state and local risk assessors, and EPA staff, including environmental justice coordinators, and regional science liaisons.

Together, people can share a computer to assess local conditions, and plot mutually beneficial actions to reduce risks and advance a healthier, more sustainable future for their entire community.

If you have a computer and an internet connection, you can give C-FERST a try; no special software is required (although a high-speed internet connection and some familiarity with geographic information system mapping software is helpful).

Check out C-FERST at: www.epa.gov/c-ferst.

About the Author: Aaron Ferster is an EPA science writer and the communication lead for the Agency’s Sustainable and Healthy Communities national research program.

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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This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

Happy fall! Here’s the latest in EPA science.

research_recap_250Testing Salt-Tolerant Algae as a Desalination Method
There is a large volume of brackish water (salt water and fresh water mixed together) in many arid areas of the world, but current desalination methods are expensive and use a lot of energy. Recently, some of our scientists investigated the use of salt tolerant algae—also known as halophytic algae—as a natural and sustainable method to decrease salinity in brackish water and seawater. Learn more about this research in the blog Using Green to Combat Saline: Testing Salt-Tolerant Algae as a Desalination Method.

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System Assessment of Ammonia
There are a number of ways that humans can be exposed to ammonia. To characterize the potential health effects, EPA recently released an Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment that looks at the noncancer health hazards that may result from inhalation of ammonia. Learn more about the assessment in the blog EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System Assessment of Ammonia.

The Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition
Interested in helping protect our nation’s drinking water? EPA and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are joining forces to launch the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition for the development of new technology to detect arsenic in water. Learn more about the upcoming competition in the blog We’re Sensing a Change in Water Monitoring: Introducing the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition.

Water Quality Research Grants
This week EPA announced funding to six universities to work with local communities to better understand the economic value of water quality. This research will provide a critical link between water quality science and the monetary value of the services that healthy waterways provide. Learn more about the grants in this press release.

Need more science? Mark you calendars for some of these upcoming events at EPA.

Now get outside and enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

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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Using Green to Combat Saline: Testing Salt-Tolerant Algae as a Desalination Method

By Christina Burchette

In 2014, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies released a report called “The 50 most critical scientific & technological breakthroughs required for sustainable global development.” Of all the technologies the report highlighted, the number one priority on the list was a new method for desalinating water. That’s because water security is closely linked with energy and food security issues—world water demand is rising, and more than 70% is used for agriculture.

Algae water sample, desalinated sample, desalinated and filtered water sample

From left: Desalinated and filtered water sample, desalinated water sample, algae water sample

There is a large volume of brackish water (salt water and fresh water mixed together) in many arid areas of the world, but current desalination methods are expensive and use a lot of energy, which means that most people who need them can’t use them. Finding a low-cost and renewable desalination method could help alleviate some of the effects of water scarcity, which is becoming an increasingly apparent problem as we continue to feel the impacts of climate change around the world.

So how do we find a sustainable, low-cost, and energy efficient way to remove salinity from water, making it suitable for drinking and agriculture? By harnessing the power of the ultimate technology: Mother Nature. Recently, some of our scientists investigated the use of salt tolerant algae—also known as halophytic algae—as a natural and sustainable method to decrease salinity in brackish water and seawater. Some species of salt-tolerant algae can absorb up to 50 times more salt than the concentration of salt in the water they inhabit, making them a perfect (and natural!) way to desalinate water for potable use. In addition, the growing algae can be used to mitigate carbon dioxide from point source emissions. Once the algae has been used for desalination, it can then be harvested and used as a raw material for biofuel production to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

The photobioreactor looks like a large glass tube

The photobioreactor

To gather insight about which algae species would perform the best during experiments, researchers visited an algae bank at the University of Texas at Austin. After screening more than 12 different types of algae species and noting special conditions like pH, micronutrient requirements, and light cycle sensitivity, researchers picked four types of halophytic algae that had the best salt uptake rates.

They then grew and tested the algae for its salt-removal capabilities in a photobioreactor, which is a vessel that housed the algae and provided it with the light it needed to mature. Researchers manipulated the algae’s breeding and feeding conditions to optimize growth rate, survival rate, and absorbency and discovered that they could remove up to 30% salinity in brackish water samples in one treatment stage.

While complete desalination can’t be achieved with algae alone, this method can serve as a pretreatment to other desalination technologies—reducing the energy footprint and financial costs of desalination while making the process more sustainable. EPA researchers are currently comparing the sustainability advantages of biodesalination technology with conventional approaches. This research highlights not only what our researchers are doing to provide potential solutions to global water issues, but also the amazing things that can be achieved with natural resources and a little bit of science.

Various algae species in smaller bioreactors

Various algae species in smaller bioreactors

About the Author: Christina Burchette is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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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EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System Assessment of Ammonia

By Salina Tewolde and Lou D’Amico, Ph.D.

The first thing that probably comes to your mind when I say “ammonia” is that household product you use to clean just about anything in your house. Besides being used as an all-purpose cleaner, ammonia also occurs naturally in air, soil, and water. As you’re reading this, you’re producing ammonia too – it’s used in nucleic acid and protein synthesis, and helps your body maintain its acid-base balance – all part of normal biological processes.

The largest and most significant use of ammonia is in agricultural fertilizers, which represents about 80% of commercially produced ammonia. Ammonia is also used in food products as an antimicrobial agent, in water purification, and in refrigeration systems. It’s also an important chemical intermediate in the production of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, and is used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from combustion sources like some industrial boilers and diesel engines. Some major sources of ammonia gas come from leaks and spills during the production, storage, or processing stages of the chemical. Other sources include decaying manure from livestock, application of fertilizers in agricultural, and sewage or wastewater emissions in the environment. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory reports that over 150 million pounds of ammonia was released from reporting facilities in 2014.

There are a number of ways that humans can be exposed to ammonia. The most common route of exposure is through breathing air that contains ammonia. Humans can be exposed to ammonia gas from household cleaning products or through direct skin contact via products that contain the chemical. Livestock and poultry farmers that work in animal feeding operations or confinement areas can be exposed to ammonia released from animal waste, and farmers can be exposed when applying ammonia-containing fertilizers to fields.

IRIS spelled out with flowers in the backgroundTo characterize the potential health effects that humans can acquire from inhaling high concentrations of ammonia, EPA recently released an Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment that looks at the noncancer health hazards that may result from inhalation of ammonia.

EPA’s assessment evaluates chronic inhalation exposure to ammonia, observed at levels that exceed naturally-occurring ammonia concentrations. Human and animal studies showed that inhalation exposure had an effect on the respiratory tract in humans, which is the site of direct contact when ammonia is inhaled. This hazard determination was based on findings from multiple epidemiology studies in human populations exposed to ammonia in different settings (workers in industrial, cleaning and agricultural settings, volunteers exposed for up to 6 hours under controlled conditions, as well as case reports) and animals (short-term and subchronic studies in several species and across different exposure patterns). Short-term inhalation exposure to high levels of ammonia in humans can cause irritation and serious burns in the mouth, lungs, and eyes. Chronic exposure to airborne ammonia may increase the risk of respiratory irritation, cough, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and decreased lung function.

EPA’s IRIS assessment includes an estimate of the amount of ammonia that one can breathe every day for a lifetime that is likely to be without harmful health effects. This is known as an inhalation reference concentration, or RfC. The RfC was derived from an occupational study by Holness et al. (1989) that looked at the relationship between decreased lung function and long-term exposure to ammonia from workers at a soda ash plant. Ammonia was last evaluated by the IRIS Program in 1991, and as a result of the reevaluation posted this week, the RfC is five-fold higher (less stringent) than what was previously on the IRIS database. You can learn as much as you care to about ammonia inhalation toxicity through either reading the Toxicological Review on the IRIS Ammonia webpage, or getting the highlights through the accompanying IRIS Summary.

IRIS assessments go through rigorous review prior to finalization. This ammonia assessment was reviewed by EPA’s program offices and regions and other federal agencies, as well as external peer review by the Science Advisory Board Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee. The public also had opportunity to comment. All of this information is available on the IRIS chemical-specific page for ammonia, and demonstrates the IRIS Program’s commitment to transparency while providing high quality, publicly available information on the toxicity of chemicals to which the public might be exposed.

Reference:  Holness, DL; Purdham, JT; Nethercott, JR. (1989). Acute and chronic respiratory effects of occupational exposure to ammonia. AIHA J 50: 646-650.

About the Authors: Salina Tewolde is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Lou D’Amico is the Acting Communications Director for the National Center for Environmental Assessment, which houses the IRIS Program.

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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Upcoming Events at EPA

By Michaela Burns

A new school semester means more learning! Not in school? You can still learn about science at EPA from some of our upcoming events.

Science To Achieve Results Tribal Grantee Progress Review Meeting
Tuesday, September 20th at 9 a.m. ET—Wednesday, September 21st at 5 p.m. ET  

Tribal landDon’t miss EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Tribal Grantee Progress Review Meeting where we will receive research progress updates from the grantees awarded under the 2013 Request for Applications, Science for Sustainable and Healthy Tribes. EPA researchers will also share their work and present tools that can be applied to improve tribal health and well-being. Grantees, EPA, and other partners will discuss future opportunities for collaboration. Register now.

Food-Use Chemicals in ToxCast: Identification, Curation, and Evaluation
Thursday, September 22nd at 11 a.m. ET

pile of fruitIn this month’s CompTox Communities of Practice webinar, Agnes Karmaus, of Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc., will discuss recently published research on food-relevant chemicals using the publicly available ToxCast high-throughput screening program.  Tune in and learn more.

 

 

Microbiomes in the Built Environment
Thursday, September 22ndat 11:00 a.m. ET

Control panel of the gas boiler for hot water and heatingA vast number of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa can live in built environments such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. These microbial communities or “microbiomes” are influenced by interactions with humans, animals, and plants and factors such as air flow, temperature, humidity, chemical exposures, and building materials. In this upcoming webinar, Dr. Brent Stephens, Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, will present an overview of the current science on microbiomes and the built environment. Register now!

Perfluorinated Chemicals: Analytics, Occurrence, and Treatment
Tuesday, September 27th at 2:00 p.m. ET

water faucet This month’s Small System’s webinar will focus on perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) with an emphasis on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Jody Shoemaker will present EPA’s analytical method for PFCs. This will cover the approach, performance data, holding time studies, and contamination issues. Marc Mills will present source water issues for PFCs, including the impact of wastewater effluents. Thomas Speth will cover what is known from the literature regarding PFOA and PFOS treatment for the technologies commonly employed by drinking water facilities. Register to learn more.

I-WASTE
Wednesday, September 28th at 3:00 p.m. ET

i-waste in actionThis month’s EPA Tools and Resources Webinar is on I-WASTE, a web-based decision support tool that organizes information related to managing waste resulting from natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It can be used by emergency response authorities, property owners, planners, treatment managers, as well as tribal, state, and local agencies responsible for making disposal decisions. Register for the webinar.

For more events head on over to the EPA research event page.

 About the Author: Michaela Burns is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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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We’re Sensing a Change in Water Monitoring: Introducing the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition

By Lauren McAllister

Interested in helping protect our nation’s drinking water? EPA and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) are joining forces to launch the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition for the development of new technology to detect arsenic in water.

info graphic about arsenic in drinking waterThe Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public water systems monitor regulated contaminants in drinking water to ensure public safety. Arsenic, a naturally occurring element, is one of the many drinking water contaminants actively monitored by drinking water systems because it can result in adverse health conditions, including an increased risk for a range of cancers. Measuring and testing for arsenic requires expensive instruments and lab work, as well as time. However, with new and emerging technologies, a more efficient arsenic monitoring technology could help to improve the monitoring system, reduce costs, and better protect human health and the environment.

Typically, samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis, with results available days to weeks later. New technology could accelerate this process by allowing for immediate detection of arsenic in water. This could reduce monitoring costs and help water utilities more effectively control treatment to remove arsenic from the drinking water supply.

The Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition aims to improve the existing process with upcoming and emerging technology.  The competition is not exclusively restricted to sensor developers, but seeks applicants from all fields. Applicant criteria includes anyone with ideas for how to rapidly, accurately, and cost-effectively measure arsenic in water.

The first phase of the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition is scheduled to be launched in fall 2016. Entries will be judged and cash prizes will be awarded to winners. If you are interested in receiving notifications about the Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition, email PRIZE@usbr.gov with “Arsenic Sensor Prize Competition” in the subject line to join the email list. The official prize competition announcement will be posted on Challenge.gov.

About the Author: Lauren McAllister is an Oak Ridge Associated Universities contractor with the Innovation Team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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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This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

Fall is right around the corner! Here’s a quick read before you head out to soak up the last few days of summer. Check out the latest in EPA science.

Integrated Risk Information System Program
Last week, EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program released the final assessment of trimethylbenzenes (TMBs). IRIS assessments provide health effects information and toxicity values for cancer and non-cancer health outcomes by using the best available scientific data. Learn about how to use the database in the blog Navigating a Newly Posted IRIS Assessment.

Interconnections in the Web of Life
For the past five years, researchers at EPA’s Western Ecology Division laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon have been composting their food scraps.  After noticing that large food scraps were being stirred-up overnight by something in their compost bins, they installed a self-operated wildlife camera inside one of the bins to identify the culprits. Read about what the researchers found in the blog Interconnections in the Web of Life.

Faces of EPA
Want to know more about what it’s like to work at EPA? Check out some of our featured researchers.

Meet Mary Kentula! Mary is an ecologist at EPA and the technical lead for EPA’s National Wetland Condition Assessment. Learn more about her work by watching the video Faces of EPA: Mary Kentula.

Meet Jana Compton! Jana is a research ecologist at EPA. Her research focuses on water quality and the impacts of nutrient pollution, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, on water quality. Learn more about her work by watching the video Faces of EPA: Jana Compton.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

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.