Protecting Children Comes First

By Lina Younes

I hate pests! I loathe disease-carrying rodents with a passion.

Several years ago, I participated in the filming of a TV interview in Spanish with an expert in healthy homes. Together, we went room by room through a home and day care to identify potential environmental hazards and, above all, to learn how to keep areas pest free.

I found the experience very informative. Personally, I was struck by the behavior of rodents. Did you know that mice and small rats can fit through holes about the size of a quarter and can squeeze their way into your home and take up residence, nesting in corners and feeding on food crumbs? Yuck!

Likewise, small children have their own behavioral characteristics. They spend a lot of the time on the floor, crawling or playing. Their innate curiosity leads them to grab small articles they find along their way and often put them into their mouths, including mouse pellets they may find in open trays on the floor. More than 10,000 kids each year in the U.S. are exposed to mouse and rat pellets, often by putting them in their mouths. That is why EPA has been working with pesticide manufacturers to change consumer mouse and rat poisons to be sold in enclosed bait stations, to protect curious kids from the poison. The enclosed bait stations are also protective of household pets.

In addition, EPA is banning four of the most toxic poisons from consumer products, to protect wildlife. Mouse and rat poisons that you use inside your home can harm wildlife because poisoned rodents that venture outside can poison wildlife like hawks and foxes that ingest rodents as prey.

So, what can you do to keep your children safe from accidental poisonings in the home?

  1. Read the label first! By not following the instructions carefully, you can actually put your family at risk.
  2. Create barriers to prevent rodents from entering the home by closing cracks, using wire mesh along pipes, so that these unwanted visitors will not seek shelter in your home and you will need to use less poison.

Do you have any safety tips that you would like to share with us? We always like to hear from you.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Answering Fears of Students about Bed Bugs in their City Schools

By Marcia Anderson

Byron e-mails: “Today every student on my team at school received a letter about inspectors spotting a bed bug in one of our classrooms. They said they will not issue a pest control spray because it is just a small case of one bed bug… I don’t want to go to school until the pests are clear, but sadly that’s part of my life and I have to go. What can I do to keep these disgusting creatures out of my home?!”

Anna writes: “…My school has a bed bug infestation because of what I found last week in class. I was at my table when I found a bedbug crawling on the desk. I immediately killed it and blood came out of it. It was small so there must be more. What can I do? I already advised some teachers and students as well as my principal but (they) have not done anything? What should I do?”

Dear Byron and Anna,

Your school administrators are correct advising parents to be on the lookout for bed bugs that may hitch a ride to school. However, the sighting of one bed bug does not mean that there is an infestation at your schools. Chances are that the bed bug(s) hitchhiked in from a student or staff member that either has bed bugs at home, or picked them up on the way to school.

Your administrators were being cautious about applying chemicals in a school that may not have an infestation. Although it is important to keep schools free of pests, many pesticides are inherently toxic and may have potential health risks, especially when used in the vicinity of children. Because humans and pests depend on the same food chain, it is not surprising that the use of chemicals that are intended to kill pests comes with some unknown risks to people. Sprayed pesticides may become airborne and settle on toys, desks, counters, shades and walls. Children and staff may breathe in contaminated air or touch contaminated surfaces and unknowingly expose themselves to invisible residues. Accumulations of pesticides can linger for months beyond the initial application. The proper course of action is to investigate the extent of the pest problem and then use the least toxic steps to mitigate the problem, such as barriers, sanitation and maintenance prior to pesticide applications, if needed. This is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is mandated for schools in many states and practiced in New York City schools. Vacuuming, steam cleaning, the use of hot dryers, plastic boxes for storage, and removing clutter where pests may harbor is the preferred action for single bed bug sightings in schools. Continue reading

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Even in Winter

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Lina Younes

Recently, my youngest daughter went to Great Falls Park, VA with her fifth grade science class. Since the weather forecast called for a cold day, the teacher recommended that the children bundle up in several layers of clothing to fully enjoy their time outdoors. As part of the field trip preparations, the teacher also warned the children about the possibility of ticks in the park. She suggested using insect repellents safely.

Personally, I was puzzled. I didn’t think that ticks and other insects could survive cold temperatures. I always associated bugs like ticks and mosquitoes with the summer months. Outdoor bugs and winter didn’t make sense to me. I asked the experts in our Office of Pesticide Programs for the facts and was even more surprised with the results. Thus, I decided to share the information with you.

How cold does it have to be in order not to risk get bitten by mosquitoes and ticks when you go outside? The answer: Below 4 degrees Celsius (about 39 degrees Fahrenheit) for mosquitoes.

And, how about ticks? “For ticks—they can bite year round. It is less likely below freezing temperatures due to lack of movement, but they can attach if you come in contact with them.”

In my case, I confess, that I will be more vigilant when I hear about outbreaks of tick and mosquito-borne diseases such as lyme disease, West Nile Virus,  and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, when I go outdoors. And, when traveling to subtropical and tropical areas, such as U.S. territories (Puerto Rico and Guam) we need to be careful with mosquito transmitted diseases, such as dengue fever, too.

Furthermore, do you have pets? Do you take your dog for a walk outside? Make sure your pet doesn’t bring any ticks home with him even during winter. Ask the veterinarian for tick control products that will help prevent ticks from attaching to your pet so everyone can stay healthy.

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Celebrating Children’s Health Month

By Maureen O’Neill

So why are you reading this?  Are you interested, worried or want to take action?  For you then, here’s some good and bad news.

Let’s do the good first.  There is a wealth of information on every children’s health topic you can imagine.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you’ve already been exposed to topics like lead, methylmercury, PCBs and goodness knows what else.  If you haven’t and want an overview, you can check out the websites of EPA, CDC, NIEHS and many others.

I am a professed info junkie and although I try, I can’t keep up with everything.  I don’t know anyone who can.  So I focus in on what I need to know and be sure I’m looking at some of the topical sources to see what’s going on.  My own favorite for this is Environmental Health News which lands in your mailbox every day.

Are you a parent or someone worried about a child’s exposure and what it means?  Do you need to get professional advice?  We have a Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit serving the region (NJ, NY, Puerto Rico and the USVI) at Mt. Sinai.  These are docs who specialize in environmental health topics and you can get a free phone consultation.  The PEHSU also provide clinical consultation and education for health care professionals, public health officials, and community organizations with concerns regarding children’s environmental health.  See more here.

Here’s the not so good part.  There’s a lot of information on children’s health out there, of varying quality, and many of the topics have emerging science.  That means that frequently there aren’t good clear yes/no answers that we all want to have.  So, what to do?

I think the smartest thing is to be protective of your kids, have fun with them and practice the best tips I know.  Go to http://www2.epa.gov/children to see how to help your kids breathe easier, protect them from lead poisoning, keep pesticides and other toxics away from children and protect them from carbon monoxide, contaminated fish, radon and other environmental hazards.  We can’t protect children from everything, but if you follow these steps, you are giving your children the best.

About the author: Maureen O’Neill is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Region’s Office of Strategic Programs. Her focus is targeting environmental programs and resources to issues impacting environmental health, with a particular focus on at-risk children. Prior to her New York assignment, her work involved water issues, both domestic and international. She has been involved with the United States Government Middle East Peace Process focusing on water issues.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Rachel Carson and Expanding the Conversation on Environmentalism

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

Cross-posted from the Administrator’s Blog

By Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of ecologist Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking 1962 book Silent Spring. By 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established.

That’s no coincidence.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring launched the modern-day environmental movement and changed the world we live in.

In her book, Carson discussed the widespread and detrimental use of certain pesticides – especially DDT, a toxin that almost wiped out our national symbol, the bald eagle. EPA banned the use of that pesticide in 1972.

Rachel Carson’s writing helped Americans see the connections between their health and the health of the environment. Her efforts helped ignite the conversation on environmentalism in America.

One of my priorities as administrator of EPA has been to continue what Rachel began by working to expand the conversation on environmentalism. Bringing people together around environmental issues is essential. We want mothers and fathers to know how important clean air, water and land are to their health and the health of their children. We want to continue to engage African Americans and Latinos and expand the conversation on environmental challenges, so we can address health disparities resulting from pollution that affects low-income and minority communities. Environmental justice will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

Though we’ve made a great deal of progress since Silent Spring, we still have much work to do. Heart disease, cancer and respiratory illnesses are three of the top four most fatal health threats in America. They account for more than half of the deaths in the nation – and all three have been linked to environmental causes. Environmental issues are critical health issues, and we need all Americans to participate in this conversation.

Rachel Carson helped show many Americans that, though they may not think of themselves as environmentalists, environmental issues invariably play a role in their health and in the future of the nation.

Her message remains as true and as critical today as it was 50 years ago.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Safety is a Must!

By Lina Younes

This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. EPA and its partners work together to create awareness among farmworkers and their families about the importance of being safe in rural communities around the farm, nurseries, and greenhouses. The Agency collaborates with federal, state, and non-profit agencies and associations in the implementation of the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard in order to reduce risks of pesticide poisonings and injuries among agricultural workers, pesticide handlers and their families as well. Partners such as the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs and the Migrant Clinicians Network focus on providing training on the proper handling of pesticides and health concerns of farmworkers and their families. Training and outreach tools have been developed in English, Spanish, and other languages to ensure that farmworkers receive the proper information regardless of their native language.

In fact, one of the creative outreach tools developed through EPA’s sponsorship was the educational play for farmworkers and their families entitled “El Moscas y los pesticidas” (Flies and Pesticides) EPA’s Region VI office led the effort and the pesticide awareness play was performed at community events in Texas, New Mexico, and Washington State.

So, what are some tips to protect individuals who work in agricultural fields, nurseries, and greenhouses as well as their families from pesticide exposure?

  • Close windows of houses near fields during and after spraying.
  • Don’t eat fruit or vegetables directly from the field.
  • Always wash fruit and vegetables in clean water before eating.
  • Keep children away from where pesticides may be and store them out of their reach.
  • For the farmworker, pesticides may get on your clothes or body. Wash your clothes separately from the family laundry.
  • After work, shower or wash your body with soap and water. Shampoo your hair and then put on clean clothes.
  • Leave your work shoes or boots outside the house in order not to bring pesticide residues inside.
  • Don’t use agricultural pesticides in your home.
  • If pesticides get on your skin, wash it right away.
  • While working in a greenhouse or enclosed area, if you feel dizzy or sick, get out to an open area to breathe fresh air.

More information on agricultural worker safety and training is available on our website. To the farmworkers, thank you for the work you do.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Scientists Working For You

By Rey Rivera

When you woke up this morning, did you ponder for a few minutes about how science contributes to your life from the moment you open your eyes (and even while you’re asleep)? I bet you didn’t.

Many of us go from sleeping in a room with clean air, depending on an alarm clock to wake up, taking a warm shower with clean water, to enjoying a healthy breakfast without even stopping for a second to think about all the scientific knowledge that is put in practice for our benefit and comfort throughout the day.

Among the scientists that contribute to the enjoyment of your daily life are the thousands of scientists who work here in the EPA. In our case, we analyze scientific facts and provide you with easily understandable information to help you protect your environment, your health and your family’s health.

Would you like to learn about protecting your family from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, or about asthma triggers?  Or what about pesticides, or radon? Would you like to know more about new technologies to cleanup sites contaminated with hazardous wastes? Or what about water quality and water conservation?

Those and many other questions could be answered with a few clicks on EPA’s website, talking with our experts, or checking out ongoing scientific projects in our Office of Research & Development.

While in school, the realization of how important science is in our lives and how much it could help others lead me in the direction of becoming a scientist myself. My 25 career in EPA has been a very gratifying experience that gives me the satisfaction of being able to put in practice my scientific training to contribute to the quality of life of many people.

Now, in this busy life that many of us have –enjoying the amazing products that science give us– I invite you to pause for a moment, look around you and realize just how much we owe to the knowledge that science discovers and put into productive use. And if you cross paths with a scientist, please say thank you… I’m sure he or she is very pleased to be working for you.

About the author: Reiniero (“Rey”) Rivera started working for the EPA in 1987 as an environmental engineer in the Chicago regional office and currently works in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in Washington DC.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

What is Your Legacy?

By Luz V. Garcia

When a mother talks to her child and says, “I am proud of you,” that means a lot to the child. Why? Because the child is thinking, “I am creating something that my mom feels proud of and I’m pleasing her.” When we compliment our children, we are reinforcing good behavior and, in doing so, we can only hope that they can pass that legacy to their own children.

One of the dictionary definitions of legacy is, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or a predecessor.”  As EPA employees, we think about our work as building a legacy for the benefit of future generations. It can come in the form of a legal case that reduces or eliminates a contamination source, or a team effort that helps a community, or an environmental inspection that fulfills our protective charter. Our agency’s mission is to protect human health and support a better and cleaner environment. For example, in 2011, I was able to stop, with the help of U.S. Customs, the importation of illegal pesticides into the country, illegal pesticides that have the shape of candy that could easily be mistaken and consumed by unsuspecting children. These pesticides could just as easily have ended up on New York City streets. I also feel proud of submitting five sites in Puerto Rico that were listed in the Superfund-National Priority List and are now mostly in the clean up stage. These are some of the examples of accomplishments that inspire me to continue my work at EPA, and these are part of my legacy.

Every effort contributes to the creation of a “legacy” and we all want to think that at the end of our work and life journey, we left a behind a body of good work.  That’s a feeling that we can incorporate into every activity during our day.

We want some accomplishments throughout our life journey that our co-workers, our community benefit from, and of which our family can feel proud and inspired. That is what I called “one’s own legacy.”

But the real world sometimes keep us so busy and involved in our daily chores that we can forget to ask ourselves, What opportunity  do I have today to inspire or lead someone to something good and permanent for the future? So remember at the end of your busy schedule to ask yourself the question, “What did I contribute to my legacy today?”

¿Cuál es tu Legado?

Cuando una madre le dice a su hijo “Me siento orgullosa de ti”, esas palabras significan mucho para ese niño. ¿Por qué? Porque el niño esta pensando, “He creado algo de lo cuál mi madre se siente orgullosa” y cuándo alagamos nuestros hijos, estamos reenforzando  un buen comportamiento  y esperamos que ellos pasen ese legado  a sus hijos.

Una definición del diccionario para la palabra “Legado” como “algo que  viene del pasado, de ancestro o de un predecesor”. Como empleados de la EPA  pensamos que nuestro trabajo nos permite crear un legado de dónde las futuras generaciones. Este legado puede ser en la forma de un caso legal que reduce la fuente de contaminación, o  cómo parte de un esfuerzo  de equipo que ayuda a la comunidad, o como una inspección ambiental que cumple con nuestro cometido de protección ambiental. La misión de la agencia es la protección de la salud y luchar por mantener o mejorar el medio ambiente.  Por ejemplo, en el año 2011, fui capaz, con la ayuda de Aduana Federal, de parar la importación ilegal de pesticidas  a la nación, pesticidas ilegales cuya forma similar a los dulces confundiría  y hasta podría ser ingerido por cualquier niños.  Este tipo de pesticida pudieron terminar siendo  distribuidos en las calles de Nueva York.  También me siento orgullosa de haber sometido cinco  lugares en Puerto Rico que finalizaron en las Lista de Prioridad Nacional del Programa de Superfondo y que  están ahora en su fase final de limpieza. Estos son algunos de los ejemplos de mis logros que me inspiran a continuar mi trabajo en la EPA y son parte de mi legado.

Cada esfuerzo nuestro  construye un legado y queremos pensar que al final de nuestra jornada laboral o nuestro camino en la vida dejamos el fruto de un buen trabajo. Este sentir  lo podemos incorporar en todas nuestras actividades diarias.

Queremos que nuestros logros a través de la vida beneficien e inspiren a  nuestros compañeros, nuestra comunidad  y  finalmente hacer sentir orgullosa a nuestra familia.  Eso es lo que yo llamo “Mi legado”.

Pero en la vida real, estamos tan ocupados con nuestras funciones diarias que olvidamos preguntarnos, ¿Qué oportunidad he tenido hoy de inspirar a alguien a hacer algo bueno o permanente? Debemos recordar a l final de nuestro tan ocupado itinerario, el preguntarnos, ” ¿Cual es mi legado de hoy?”

About the Author: Luz V. Garcia is a physical scientist with a post-graduate degree in the Science of Environmental Engineering. She works in the Division of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance and has experience enforcing a variety of programs in RCRA, Superfund, and Pesticides and Toxic Substances.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Disappearing Pigeons and Rats from a Bronx High School

By Marcia Anderson

Pigeons and rats are disappearing from the terrace, roof and sidewalks of the Roosevelt High School building at 500 Fordham Road in the Bronx, thanks to a pair of red-tailed hawks and their three eyasses, or nestling hawks, which have made the pediment of Collins Hall at the Rose Hill campus of Fordham University  their home. The red-tailed hawk is a large bird of prey, breeds throughout North America and is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The birds have been a mainstay in New York City with many known nesting sites in Manhattan and the Bronx:  5th Avenue, 888 Seventh Avenue, St. John the Divine, Highbridge Park, Inwood Hill Park, South Riverside Park, Houston Street, and Shepard Hall, City College and the Fordham University site.  All sites had productive nests with offspring this past spring.

Over the years, the hawks have nested everywhere from the American Museum of Natural History to the Unisphere in Queens. In 2004, there was a public uproar over a Fifth Avenue co-op building’s decision to destroy a red hawk nest, which had grown to a size of eight feet and 400 pounds. Fordham is an ideal location for the hawks as  there are plenty of squirrels, rats and pigeons for the hawks to prey on while having no predators to worry about.

A Red-tailed Hawk

Garbage and rats are an increasing problem on the sidewalks surrounding the Roosevelt High School building, because the Department of Sanitation has reduced the number of dumpsters allowed for school use throughout New York City.  The garbage bags pile up outside of school buildings and become rat magnets.  The head custodian at Roosevelt High School is very careful not to place highly toxic pesticide baits for the rats outside of the building in an effort to prevent any secondary poisoning for non-target birds or mammals. Secondary poisonings occur when birds of prey, pets, or other wildlife find carcasses, or slow moving rats that have been poisoned by rodenticides. They feast on the toxic rat bodies and could be killed by the toxins themselves.  The custodians use snap traps and less toxic baits in bait stations instead.

The red hawks and their fledglings have done an excellent job reducing the rat population in the area around Fordham University, along with the problem of pigeon debris left on the roof and terraces of the high school and other nearby buildings. Take home message: There is more than just pesticides that can reduce the number of  rats, mice and pigeons in New York City!

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 views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

An Unexpected Experience at EPA

By Anna McGill

When I started my Summer Internship with EPA, I was completely unsure of what to expect. As an economics major, environmental science is not exactly my forte. Yes, I recycle. I try and use less energy and I take public transportation, but I still wasn’t sure how I would hold up among the “greenest” people in the country. I realized, however, that the EPA is responsible for so much more than advocating reusable water bottles or special light bulbs. The people I have worked with this summer have shown me that EPA is genuinely concerned about the health of America and its people, and is striving to teach all of us how we can all help ensure health and happiness for future generations as well.

The efforts of EPA are endless. EPA is not simply filled with scientists conducting experiments, although our country depends on their research—it is filled with people working on numerous topics. If there is one thing I will take away from my experience this summer at EPA, it is the magnitude and depth of the work being pursued by the employees. Some are negotiating with other countries to make sure that the fruit you had for breakfast this morning does not contain an unsafe level of pesticide residues. Others are helping communities and companies take the steps towards sustainability. Some are testifying before Congress. Some are informing the public about potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in our homes and products we use every day, and pushing forward on improving chemical safety. They are keeping tabs on chemicals few of us can even pronounce, while also investigating the newest technologies that can save us valuable time, energy and resources.

This summer I have learned that taking steps to be green are small but helpful contributions toward EPA’s mission: ensuring a healthy, safe, sustainable future for all of us. Even though my time at the EPA is coming to a close, I am certain that the people I have met and worked with this summer will continue advocating for every American. And even though I still can’t seem pronounce the names of some of those chemicals, I know that the professionals at EPA are working tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, and that is something to be proud of and thankful for.

About the author: Anna is a summer intern in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. She is double majoring in International Politics and Economics and will be a senior at Penn State University this fall.

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