Public Health Week

This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatrick

research_recap_250Will you be in the Washington D.C. area this weekend? Come join us as at the USA Science & Engineering Festival where we’ll be holding our People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) student design competition and National Sustainable Design Expo!

Not in the area but still need a science fix? Then check out the latest from EPA right here.

Citizen Science
This week, the White House announced the launch of CitizenScience.gov. The new hub provides information, resources, and tools for people looking to participate in citizen science and crowdsourcing projects. The site features a catalog of federally-supported citizen science and crowdsourcing projects across the country—17 of these are EPA projects. Read more about the initiative in this White House fact sheet.

Public Health and Environmental Protection
Last week was Public Health Week! From ongoing efforts to address climate change to the emerging concerns of the potential spread of the Zika virus, EPA scientists and engineers are working tirelessly to protect public health. To learn more about the role of EPA science in public health, read this message from Tom Burke, the Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development as well as Agency’s Science Advisor.

Water Security Test Bed
EPA built the Water Security Test Bed—a full-sized replica of a drinking water distribution system—to conduct real-world experiments regarding water security in the face of emergency situations and aging infrastructure. Over the next few years, EPA and it collaborators plan to run various experiments to ensure that if disaster strikes our water infrastructure systems we have the data and tools to protect our infrastructure and public health. Read more about it in the blog Water Security Test Bed: Real-World Testing of Real-World Systems Issues.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with 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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Designing Safer Products is No Accident

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By David DiFiore

I am the grandchild of an Italian immigrant, Olimpia Viglione, who, as a young woman keeping house for a living, severely damaged her lungs cleaning floors with harsh chemicals. As a result, she spent most of her life suffering with lung congestion and chronic bronchitis, often struggling to breathe.

EPA’s public health mission is something that strongly attracted me to the Agency. After learning the ropes of chemical evaluation and management in EPA’s New Chemicals Program, two colleagues and I had an idea: Why not evaluate chemicals we use every day, like those in cleaning products, as we do new chemicals?…and why not partner with companies interested in innovation and offer them recognition in exchange for making safer products? That idea had traction and eventually grew into the Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Labeling Program.

Do you recognize this symbol?

It is EPA’s label for safer chemical-based products. Products that carry the label must perform well and contain the safest possible ingredients, advancing EPA’s public health and environmental mission. DfE carefully reviews all products submitted for this special recognition against the stringent human and environmental health requirements in its Standard for Safer Products. Once a product passes the test and bears the label, consumers and institutional purchasers are empowered to select products that are safer for their families and pets, clients and co-workers, and the planet.

DfE-labeled products contain no carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants or chemicals that cause other harmful effects, including, close to my heart, lung effects and asthma. It’s comforting to know that because of labeled products other housekeepers and custodial workers need not suffer as my grandmother did. By replacing chemicals of concern with safer ingredients, labeled products reduce human and environmental exposures to potentially hazardous chemicals by hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

Close to 2500 products now carry the DfE label in an array of sectors, from all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergents to floor, carpet, car and boat care products. You can find a complete list of DfE-labeled products.

About the author: David DiFiore is a senior project manager in the Design for the Environment Program. He is a founder of the Safer Product Labeling Program and passionate about the potential of green chemistry to drive product innovation.

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

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