A New Role for EPA’s Water Reuse Action Plan

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Conservation/TecH2O Manager Anai Padilla and Chief Technical Officer Gilbert Trejo give EPA’s Jeff Lape a tour of El Paso Water’s TecH2O Learning Center. (Photo by Carlos A. Briano)

Conservation/TecH2O Manager Anai Padilla and Chief Technical Officer Gilbert Trejo give EPA’s Jeff Lape a tour of El Paso Water’s TecH2O Learning Center. (Photo by Carlos A. Briano)

By Jeff Lape
National Program Leader for Water Reuse, U.S. EPA

As I write this blog post, I am currently on a water reuse mission in New Mexico and Texas, learning about the array of opportunities with agriculture, industry, academia, and others to consider how water reuse can expand our portfolio of water sources. Promoting the reuse of water for beneficial purposes instead of treating it as waste has been a priority in EPA’s Office of Water. Under the direction of Assistant Administrator for Water, Dave Ross, I’m now just a few days into my newly minted role—serving as EPA’s first National Program Leader for Water Reuse.

With 80 percent of states anticipating some freshwater shortages in the next decade, all levels of government have a responsibility to ensure that Americans have access to reliable sources of clean and safe water. Water reuse has become a rapidly expanding means of improving our water portfolio and has already shown how communities, farmers, and industry can benefit in achieving environmental and public health protection, as well as assuring the security, resiliency, and sustainability of the nation’s water resources.

That’s why EPA and our federal partners facilitated development and recently released the draft National Water Reuse Action Plan in close collaboration with communities, utilities, industry, agriculture, and others. The draft Action Plan identifies priority actions and the leadership and collaboration that is needed between governmental and nongovernmental organizations to implement these actions. Our draft Action Plan, which we are seeking comment on by December 16, 2019 (https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0174), embraces a holistic approach and, when issued in February 2020, will include clear commitments and milestones for actions that will further water reuse.

It’s encouraging to see water reuse already becoming integrated into our agency’s water resource efforts. For instance, just last month, EPA invited 38 new projects in 18 states to apply for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan. Eight of the selected applicants represented water reuse or recycling projects.

In my new role, I will work to finalize the Water Reuse Action Plan and then launch its implementation with support and contributions from our water sector stakeholders. I will also work across EPA to ensure our agency’s contributions and commitments are compelling and robust. And, I plan to identify ways to institutionalize water reuse in EPA’s culture so it becomes an enduring priority.

I’m excited for the challenge ahead, given that addressing future water resource challenges will necessitate more holistic thinking that embraces the “convergence of water” through more integrated action.

About the author: Jeff Lape has served as Deputy Director of the Office of Science and Technology in EPA’s Office of Water since 2010 and is now on detail as EPA’s National Program Leader for Water Reuse.

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.

EPA: Taking Charge on Asbestos

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Recently, EPA has been accused of wavering in its commitment to protect the people in our country from asbestos. This is certainly not the case. In April 2019, for the first time in 30 years, EPA strengthened safeguards related to asbestos. EPA’s new rule creates a legal framework by which EPA can restrict the use of more asbestos products or prohibit them entirely. This means that no manufacturer can revive discontinued asbestos products without first consulting EPA, which can then restrict or prohibit that use.

Prior to our April rule, asbestos products that were no longer on the market could come back without any EPA review, without any EPA restrictions, and without any opportunity for EPA to prohibit that use. In other words, previous administrations failed to take steps to ensure that certain dangerous asbestos products would not be reintroduced into the market.

Our April 2019 rule closed this dangerous loophole in the law and made sure that these products could not come back on the market without EPA review and the opportunity to restrict or prohibit use of the products. Combined with our ongoing risk evaluation of a few remaining industrial uses of asbestos, EPA is using our full suite of authorities to protect public health from domestic and imported asbestos products and ensuring we can prohibit dormant asbestos products from reentering the market.

EPA is not allowing new uses of asbestos under this rule. Quite the contrary. Those who are subject to the rule are required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing any manufacturing, importing, or processing of asbestos or asbestos-containing products covered under the rule. These uses are absolutely prohibited until EPA conducts a thorough review of the notice and puts in place any necessary restrictions, including prohibiting use.

Certain uses of asbestos that were prohibited in 1989 remain banned. Some people say that EPA should immediately ban all remaining asbestos products. Under TSCA, as revised by a bipartisan Congress in 2016, EPA can’t do that in one simple step. By law, with public input and scientific peer review, EPA must evaluate the risk of remaining asbestos uses before it can restrict or ban these products. And that’s exactly what we’re doing for asbestos. EPA included asbestos as one of the first 10 chemicals to undergo this risk evaluation process. This process will be open and transparent, will be available for public comment as well as for scientific peer review and will follow the timetable established by Congress.

If the Agency determines there is unreasonable risk to health or the environment from any conditions of use of asbestos we are evaluating, we are compelled by statute to take actions necessary and authorized by TSCA to ensure the use of asbestos no longer presents an unreasonable risk. These actions would be proposed within one year and finalized within two years.

EPA is covering ALL bases to be able to protect people’s health from asbestos exposure. Addressing asbestos risk remains a priority and I’m proud of the strides EPA has made in protecting the American public from asbestos exposure.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Pest-Free Homes = Healthy Environments for Healthy Kids

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

October is Children’s Health Month, making it a perfect time to highlight the steps we’re taking in EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) to protect their health, particularly at home. Children are more sensitive to environmental hazards than adults. We have an important responsibility to keep their home environment healthy and pest-fee, while also preventing children from being exposed to potential harmful products, including pesticides.

Some common household pesticides include rodent bait, mothballs, insect repellents, weed killers, and bath and kitchen disinfectants. While they are helpful in keeping your home free of pests, if used or stored improperly, pesticide products can potentially harm you or your children.

Before registering a pesticide, EPA evaluates the product to ensure that, when used according to label directions, no unreasonable adverse effects on human health or the environment will occur. The Agency develops human health and ecological risk assessments, researches alternative pesticides that are already registered, and determines if any measures or label specifications are needed to reduce risk.

Consider these tips to keep children safe from household pesticides:

  • Always read the product label and follow all directions when using pesticides.
  • Never store pesticides in containers that may be mistaken for food or drink.
  • Store pesticide products out of the reach of children.
  • Use child-resistant packaging properly by closing the container tightly after use.
  • Safely use rodent bait products by placing them only in locations where children cannot access them and keeping them in the bait stations in which they are sold.
  • Avoid illegal household pesticide products, including unregistered mothballs that can easily be mistaken for candy.
  • In case of accidental poisoning, keep the number for the Poison Control Center’s national helpline number readily available (1-800-222-1222).

In addition to following best practices to poison-proof your home, be mindful of the products you select. Products with EPA registration numbers have been reviewed by scientists at EPA. For products used on pests of significant public health importance, such as ticks and mosquitoes, EPA requires data that shows the product works on that pest and works effectively as claimed on the label. EPA is working to make more options available to choose from. For example, after thoroughly reviewing the science, we recently proposed to register a new rodent poison called alphachloralose to control house mice. It acts by putting mice to sleep and is not harmful to children when used according to the label.

To further protect children at home, you can also consider different approaches to pest management. Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, focuses on pest prevention and using pesticides only when needed. IPM is better for the environment and saves money in pesticide treatment and energy costs by improving insulation as a result of sealing cracks and adding door sweeps.

Whether at home or out in the world, let’s work to create healthy environments for all children!

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Engaging Partners in Clean Water

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by Tom Damm 

To appreciate how the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund is helping communities improve their local waters and lands – and ultimately the Bay – all you need is a quick look at the list of project summaries:

  • Assistance to seven townships in Pennsylvania with barnyard improvements, stream-side buffers and manure storage to manage agriculture runoff.
  • Outdoor classroom construction in Prince George’s County, Maryland, engaging teachers, students and building supervisors in stormwater management.
  • Eastern oyster restoration in Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia.

Throughout the list of 47 projects, you can see how the Stewardship Fund is engaging farmers, homeowners, churches, businesses and municipalities in efforts to improve water quality and restore habitat across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Stewardship Fund is a partnership between EPA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).   EPA provided $9.7 million of the nearly $12.7 million awarded in 2019, attracting almost $21 million in matching contributions.

Those gathered for the recent announcement of this year’s grants got to see the benefits of the program up close.  The backdrop for the speakers was one of the rain gardens installed with a 2017 grant at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and School in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Students from the school’s Environmental Club stood front and center for a photo opportunity at the end of the ceremony.

The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy – the organization that worked with the school on the green infrastructure project – received another grant this year to expand its Clear Creeks Project.

The $200,000 grant will allow the group to provide discount funding in Baltimore County for “Bay-Wise” practices that reduce stormwater into local waterways, such as rain barrels, rain gardens and stream cleanup events.

At the announcement, EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office Director Dana Aunkst emphasized the importance of programs like the Stewardship Fund, saying “local projects by groups and communities will continue to be critical to our success in achieving clean water.”

 

About the Author:  Tom Damm works in the Office of Public Affairs at EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, contributing strategic communications in support of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office.

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 National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

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By Jessica McFaul
Senior Advisor for the Office of Public Affairs

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and here at EPA, we’ve made tremendous progress on our part to help prevent childhood exposure to lead, both indoors and out.

As a mom of three young children, I value EPA’s role in keeping America’s children safe and healthy. And as a mom who recently experienced a lead poisoning scare with my own toddler, the agency’s mission has never seemed more important.

This spring, I took my youngest child for what I thought was a routine one-year well check. Fortunately, this included a routine blood lead level (BLL) screening, revealing a level of concern exceeding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 5 micrograms per deciliter. In the weeks and months that followed, my husband and I learned as much as we could, testing our home and water and remediating the “hot spots.” Today, we’re back to a non-detectible BLL.

As scary as this was, knowing where to find credible information allowed us to act quickly to prevent any additional exposure and address the situation. EPA, the CDC, and the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have loads of free information available online at https://www.epa.gov/lead, https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/default.htm, and https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=34&po=8.

Naturally, I gravitated to the things I could do immediately. Within a day, we identified the places in our home that most likely caused the exposure, thoroughly (and properly) wet cleaned the surrounding areas and toys, and selected foods for our daughter known to aid in lowering the BLL. Within a week, we added a fresh coat of paint to the areas of concern to encapsulate any remaining dust. These are all actions that anyone can take with very little out-of-pocket cost, whether you rent or own your home. We ultimately replaced four old windows, using EPA-certified lead abatement contractors (bonus: the new windows are energy efficient, saving us money).

Exposure can happen in many places, so if you have children, are pregnant, or are thinking of having children in the future, read up and take action now. Prevention is always the best medicine.

 

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.

Making Strides on Our Lead Reduction Initiatives

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

One of our greatest responsibilities here at EPA and in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is to protect public health, especially the health of those who are more vulnerable, such as children. We know that children are especially sensitive to the potential health effects of many hazards, particularly lead. For this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, I’d like to highlight how we’re working to protect those Americans that are most affected by the health impacts of lead exposure, specifically our efforts under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

This June, we announced a stronger, more protective standard for lead dust in homes and child-occupied facilities across the country – the first time in nearly two decades that EPA has strengthened these standards. We now are working on the lead dust clearance rule to make it consistent with the final revisions to the dust-lead hazard standards. To update the dust-lead clearance levels, EPA plans to take several steps such as conducting health, exposure, and economic analyses.

In addition, EPA regularly conducts hundreds of compliance assistance and outreach activities that support abatement, risk assessment and inspection components of the Lead-Based Paint Program. The Agency also works to increase the number of certified renovation firms capable of providing lead-safe renovation, repair and painting services through outreach campaigns.

Another important initiative we’re working on is a new educational curriculum on lead: Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy!. OCSPP collaborated with over 200 tribal partners this year to develop the curriculum to:

  • Raise awareness about childhood lead exposures;
  • Educate partners about potential impacts on children’s health and cultural practices; and
  • Encourage actions to reduce and/or prevent lead exposures in Indian country.

I am excited that this curriculum can be used by any community across the nation. The unique aspect of this curriculum is the design – it is created in a manner to balance diverse community backgrounds, technical information, and localized knowledge by allowing community leaders an opportunity to plan and deliver their own messages. The format allows users the ability to adapt information to meet various needs and consists of four modules:

  • Module 1: Understanding Lead – provides an overview of lead, its impacts, and actions that can be taken to reduce potential lead exposures and lead poisoning;
  • Module 2: Effective Cleaning Techniques – explains and demonstrates recommended cleaning techniques for reducing household lead dust;
  • Module 3: Personal Hygiene and Nutrition – focuses on the connection between personal hygiene and nutrition for children and potential exposures to lead; and
  • Module 4: Hiring Certified Lead Professionals – emphasizes the importance of hiring a certified lead professional to follow lead-safe work practices to reduce exposures to lead.

We anticipate publishing the curriculum in early 2020!

Of course, our office’s work goes hand-in-hand with the incredible efforts across the EPA – particularly last week’s announcement of a proposed rule to reduce lead and copper in drinking water. EPA’s many efforts – and those of other federal agencies – are found in the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure.

Moving forward, it’s important to remember that there’s still more to be done. I look forward to continuing to work with our federal, state, tribal, and local partners for increasing awareness about lead poisoning prevention to protect children’s health.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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 Pollution Prevention Week

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of U.S. EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution PreventionBy Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Please join me in celebrating Pollution Prevention Week, September 16-22, 2019! It’s been almost 30 years since Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which established pollution prevention as a national policy in the United States.

Pollution prevention is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source. Because pollution prevention approaches are applied to the activities that generate pollution, everyone can be a part of the solution. Citizens, communities, and companies have a wide range of options to reduce pollution at its source. Whether we increase recycling or reduce our use or pesticides at home, or reduce societal use of chemicals and resources, there are all kinds of good practices that can help us advance economic growth and increase sustainability at the same time.

By working together, we continue to come up with new approaches to pollution prevention and encourage adoption of those innovations. Between 2011 and 2016, EPA issued $36.9 million in grants to help American businesses identify, develop, and adopt pollution prevention approaches. These efforts, in turn, yielded $1.4 billion in savings to businesses; reduced the use of hazardous materials by 529 million pounds; and saved 25 billion gallons of water, among many other benefits.

One great way to get a sense of how many efforts are underway is to take a look at EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) pollution prevention pages. EPA’s TRI program collects information to track industry progress in reducing waste generation and moving toward safer waste management alternatives. Many facilities provide descriptions of measures they have taken to prevent pollution and reduce the amount of toxic chemicals entering the environment.

EPA regularly celebrates the efforts of businesses, academic institutions, local governments, and non-profits across the county. It is amazing to see the diverse and creative ways pollution prevention is being advanced. For example, last year EPA recognized the University of Minnesota for its efforts to develop a new pollution prevention approach in the automotive repair industry. Researchers offered technical assistance to Minnesota-based auto repair shops to help them achieve low-cost transitions to greener products in their degreasing processes. As a result, auto repair businesses reduced the use of volatile organic compounds and the hazardous air pollutants by thousands of pounds over a two-year period. The new practices also improved air quality for auto repair shop workers.

To take another example, the New England Environmental Finance Center at the University of Southern Maine is working with craft brewers on source reduction opportunities that can increase environmental, economic and social performance and can help the industry become more competitive in a water- and waste-intensive industry. The effort is becoming a model of sustainable operations practices for small breweries.

(Check out other pollution prevention case studies here: https://www.epa.gov/p2/pollution-prevention-case-studies.)

Three decades after passage of the Pollution Prevention Act, it’s clear there is always room to develop new and creative approaches that benefit our economy by protecting the environment. Please take a moment and visit our website to see how you can prevent pollution in your home, car, or garden.

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Senior Administration Officials Connect with Southern California Water Projects that Highlight Water Reuse Solutions

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With 80 percent of U.S. states anticipating some freshwater shortages in the next decade, diversifying the country’s water portfolio to meet the nation’s water needs is a top priority for the Trump Administration. With that in mind, Senior Administration Officials, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross, visited innovative water projects in Southern California that demonstrate the benefits of water reuse and desalination.

Water reuse, or water recycling, can be used for a wide variety of applications, including drinking, agriculture, groundwater replenishment, industrial processes and environmental restoration. But for water reuse to make a real difference in maintaining the nation’s water needs, there must be collaboration between federal, state and water sector stakeholders to encourage the use and growth of innovative water reuse technologies.

The Administration is committed to promoting this important effort, including through actions organized under the draft National Water Reuse Action Plan, which was announced at the 34th Annual WateReuse Symposium. The draft plan was announced during a panel discussion with federal partners including—the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Department of Army for Civil Works, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  Detailing ways to use water reuse technology to address the nation’s water resource challenges, this draft plan is much more than an EPA plan, but instead a water-sector plan that was developed in collaboration with federal, state, local and industry partners from around the country. EPA is now requesting public comment on the plan and engaging with all stakeholders to identify the highest priority and most urgent actions to be included.

Federal officials including CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross and U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty tour Carlsbad desalination Plant.

Federal officials including CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross and U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty tour Carlsbad desalination Plant.

Administration officials visited the Carlsbad Desalination Plant and the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Demonstration Facility and Padre Dam Municipal Water District, showcasing the vital role of collaboration between federal and non-federal stakeholders as well as the importance of innovative projects in supplying safe and sufficient water to meet future demand.

To highlight innovative water desalination projects that are already underway, officials toured the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which is the largest seawater desalination plant in the nation.  The Carlsbad plant delivers over 50 million gallons of secure and high-quality drinking water to more than 400,000 Southern California residents every day. The plant uses reverse osmosis to provide the only water supply in San Diego County that is not dependent on snowpack in the Sierras or local rainfall. This plant is a great example of what is possible when the private and public sector work together to utilize the latest technologies in water treatment.

Federal officials including EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross and U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty visit Pure Water San Diego.

Federal officials including EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross and U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty visit Pure Water San Diego.

After Carlsbad, the group continued with a demonstration of advanced water reuse at Pure Water San Diego and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. Pure Water San Diego is a phased, multi-year program that will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. Phase one of this multi-year program will provide 30 million gallons of clean, advanced-treated recycled water to San Diego-area residents starting in 2023.

At the Padre Dam Municipal Water District the group discussed of one of the biggest challenges in the water sector— the aging workforce. Nationally, it is estimated that 37 percent of water utility workers will retire in the next 10 years. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross highlighted work EPA is doing with federal partners to recruit the next generation of water professionals.

As EPA continues to work with federal, state, tribal and water sector stakeholders to address water challenges, federal collaboration will be invaluable for developing innovative technologies and partnerships that will promote water reuse and a sufficient and safe supply of water for our future.

 

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.

Healthier Schools through Integrated Pest Management

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Summer is drawing to a close, and already in some parts of the United States our children, teachers, and administrators are back to school. In the United States, more than 53 million children and 6 million adults spend a good part of their day in more than 120,000 public and private schools.

Without proper care, schools can harbor a lot of pests! Pests find homes in many places in and around schools. Cafeterias, classrooms, lockers, dumpsters, school grounds – all can attract pests, and often they can gain easy access through doors and windows. Rodents, cockroaches, and dust mites are often present in buildings and can cause or inflame allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

None of us wants children and school staff exposed to chemicals, but we don’t like the idea of them being exposed to pests either! Using a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach can reduce pests and pesticide risks and create a healthier environment for our children. We call this approach Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. IPM is better for the environment and saves schools money in pesticide treatment and energy costs by improving insulation as a result of sealing cracks and adding door sweeps.

IPM programs take advantage of all appropriate pest management strategies, including using pesticides when necessary. IPM isn’t a single pest control method. As the name suggests, it combines multiple control approaches based on obtaining site information through inspection, monitoring, and reporting. Schools design IPM programs based on the pest prevention goals and site-specific eradication needs.

Do you know if your school uses IPM? Find out more about IPM in schools and talk to your school officials about the benefits of using IPM. Here are some resources you can use to educate yourself and share with your school administrators:

Hope you and your family have a healthy and safe school year!

 

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Delmarva Grain Farmer – Getting it Right!

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by Kelly Shenk

Farmer showing data to author

Have you ever heard of the “4R’s?”  It’s a new buzz in agriculture that’s all about farm efficiency and productivity.  4R’s stands for putting the RIGHT nutrient source on a crop, at the RIGHT application rate, at the RIGHT time, and in the RIGHT place.  Farmers often refer to the 4R principles as “precision agriculture.”  Whether you call it 4R’s or precision agriculture — I call it “Getting it Right!”

I had a great opportunity to see first-hand what all this means on a Delmarva farm.  I met Jonathan Quinn, a fourth-generation grain farmer in Kent County, Maryland.  Within minutes he took out his iPad and started showing me data – lots of data – weather patterns, crop yields, fertilizer application rates.  It was clear to me that every decision he makes on his farm is driven by this data.

He told me about a technology he tested on his farm recently.  He used a drone to collect data on crop vigor which allowed him to determine what areas of the field needed additional nitrogen fertilizer.  He was able to spot an area in his field that had leftover nitrogen in the soil from a previous spinach crop.  Knowing this allowed him to adjust his nitrogen application rates.  When you talk to any farmer, they will tell you that they don’t want to waste fertilizer.  And any time they can save on fertilizers and increase their crop yields – it’s money in their pocket.

Jonathan sees his work with precision agriculture going hand-in-hand with protecting the environment.  He told me, “I don’t want to waste any inputs as far as fertilizer and chemicals.  And I’m doing it to protect the Bay, protect the environment.  I like to fish and crab and I want it to be there for my kids and my grandchildren to be able to do the same thing I did.”  This is a sentiment I hear from so many Delmarva farmers who have grown up the Chesapeake Bay.

When you boil it down, this Delmarva grain farmer is using technology and data to maximize farm efficiency, increase productivity and save money.  And guess what?  When farmers put fertilizers on the crop at the right rate, time, and place, it means less fertilizers are left over to run into our streams or leach into our groundwater.  So whether you call it the “4Rs” or “precision agriculture” or something else … I call it “Getting it Right!”

 

About the author: Kelly Shenk is EPA Region III’s Agriculture Advisor.  She works with farmers to achieve healthy, well-managed farms and clean water.  EPA helps fund the Delaware-Maryland 4R Alliance’s precision agriculture work through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grants.

 

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.

Green Streets Improving Communities, Waterways

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by Tom Damm

In a park-like setting along the Susquehanna River in Marietta, Pennsylvania, picnic tables were arranged in a large rectangle to give speakers room to talk about how their new green streets grants would control stormwater and otherwise improve their communities.

Some of the grantees came from hours away to share plans for their funding under the 2019 Green Streets, Green Towns, Green Jobs program, sponsored largely by EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

With posters and flip charts held tightly against a breeze off the river, a dozen speakers relayed highlights of their winning projects to an attentive audience of their peers.

We learned, for example, that in Baltimore, they’re turning hard vacant lots into absorbant green spaces.  In Martinsburg, West Virginia, they’re designing green features to prevent flash flooding.  And on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, Maryland, they’re redoing a parking area so that rain sinks in rather than runs off into sewers and waterways with pollutants in tow.

You can get a full list of the projects and more information on the program here.

Mayor Harold Kulman of the historic host community, Marietta, took to the podium during the official grant announcement ceremony to describe how stormwater improvements will create jobs, beautify the downtown area and reduce pollution to the Susquehanna – the largest source of freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust have been providing these “G3” grants for nine years, helping communities design and build projects that offer multiple environmental, economic and quality of life benefits.  The funds – nearly $9.4 million since the program’s inception – have been matched locally by about 2-1.

This year’s grants alone are expected to support more than 200 green jobs and reinforce one of EPA’s top priorities – improving water infrastructure.

About the Author:  Tom Damm works in the Office of Public Affairs at EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, contributing strategic communications in support of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office.

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.

Planting Trees to Promote Healthy Farms, Clean Water

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by Kelly Shenk 

Riparian Restoration – author’s son

On a foggy Saturday morning, my 12-year old son and I were on a cattle and cropland farm in Carroll County, Maryland.  We joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its 60 volunteers to plant 1,200 trees and shrubs along a creek.  The creek flows to the Monocacy River and eventually to the Chesapeake Bay. 

 We worked beside some seasoned tree planters who told us they had been planting trees along streams for over a decade.  Within that decade, they said the trees have grown up, shaded the streams, and helped bring the fish and wildlife back.  Seeing results like that has motivated them to keep volunteering.   

This project is part of the farmer’s long-term plan to plant 10 acres of “riparian forest buffer” to improve the water quality and wildlife habitat of his creek.  This buffer of trees and shrubs will help absorb nitrogen and phosphorus coming off his barnyard and his corn and soybean fields when it rains. 

Riparian Restoration

As we planted and talked, the creek water suddenly turned muddy.  We looked up the stream and saw that a cow had tromped down the streambank and was wading in the creek.  It was a perfect illustration of how cows with access to the creek can erode the streambank and cause sediment – another pollutant – in the creek.  

The landowner is in the process of fencing his cattle out of the creek.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation explained to the volunteers that excluding cows from the stream improves the cows’ health because they will be drinking cleaner water from a trough.  Healthier cows mean lower veterinary bills.  And cows drinking clean water gain weight faster which means more money in a cattleman’s pocket. 

I asked my son what he thought about the day.  I expected him to focus on all the cow patties we stepped in – after all he is 12 years old!  But he surprised me.  “It was pretty cool that we were all working together to help the farmer and the environment.”  His focus was on “together.”  We truly can have healthy farms and clean water by working together. 

 I’m looking forward to a day, 10 years from now, when I bring my son back to this farm and see how our work together has improved this farmer’s business and our local streams.  

 

About the author: Kelly Shenk is EPA Region III’s Agriculture Advisor.  She works with farmers to achieve healthy, well-managed farms and clean water.  EPA is proud to be one of many partners who helped fund this work through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 

 

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.

Tips for Greener, Healthier Lawns and Gardens

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Many Americans spend countless hours each year tending to their lawns and gardens.

Nothing frustrates a gardener more than the destructive capabilities of unwanted pests. They come in many forms, like weeds, insects, animals, molds and fungi ̶ just to name a few.

As you think about the best way to deal with pests in your garden or lawn, you may want to consider integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is a holistic, environmentally friendly, commonsense approach that focuses on pest prevention and only uses pesticides when necessary. IPM strategies allow you to manage pest damage using methods with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

Try these helpful tips when managing your green spaces:

Green Scaping - The Easy Way to a Greener, Healthier Yard

  • Outcompete weeds. A healthy lawn can compete with most weeds.
    1. Develop healthy soil
    2. Choose a grass that thrives in your climate
    3. Mow high, often and with sharp blades
    4. Water deeply, but not often
  • Choose pest-resistant plants. Many garden centers offer informa¬tion about pest-resistant plant variet¬ies. After the plants are established, they’ll save you time and money on pest control. And, some plants have their own pest resistant properties. For example, lavender is thought to help repel some mosquitoes, moths and other insects.
  • Choose plants that grow well in your region based on the amount of sun, type of soil, and water available in your yard.
  • Know your pests. Only about 5-15 % of the bugs in your yard are pests. “Good bugs,” like ladybugs and praying mantises, help control pests.

If you do choose to use a pesticide, ensure that you use it with care to get the most benefit. Reduce any risks by first always reading and following label instructions. Use only the amount instructed on the label and avoid overuse. When you have a small problem area, treat just that area, not the entire yard.

Share your photos of healthy lawns and gardens with us on Twitter @EPAChemSafety!

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

EPA Celebrates National Pollinators Week

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Each year, we celebrate National Pollinator Week in an effort to spread awareness and educate each other about the importance of pollinators like bees, butterflies, birds, and bats. About one-third of the food we eat, like almonds, berries, and many other fruits and vegetables, depend on pollinators. And I’m pleased to say that at EPA we’re working to protect them from harmful pesticide exposure.

EPA’s regulations for pesticides ensure that public health and the environment are protected. And the public can do its part by reading and closely following the label directions to ensure that they are being used safely and appropriately. At EPA, our goal is for growers to have products that protect their flowers and crops from pests while ensuring pollinators and their habitat, which are essential for gardens and farms to thrive, aren’t exposed to harmful levels of pesticides.

EPA has been working with experts around the globe since 2006 to develop a cutting-edge pollinator risk assessment process. Through our regular reviews of pesticides, we’ve also updated data requirements to better assess potential risks to pollinators.

In 2013, EPA changed many pesticide labels, prohibiting application when plants are in bloom. Since pollinators spend most of their days foraging for food, they’re usually not around when plants aren’t in bloom, which makes it a better time to apply pesticides.

Building on these efforts, EPA brought together beekeepers, growers and state pesticide regulators to help inform our 2017 Policy to Mitigate the Acute Risk to Bees from Pesticide Products, and develop pollinator protection plans. The policy encourages states to develop their own pollinator protection plans and is a terrific example of our close working relationship. It also demonstrates how communication at the local level between beekeepers and farmers who apply pesticides can be a key to protecting bees. When beekeepers learn that farmers are planning to apply pesticides, they can take steps to protect their hives.

In addition, EPA recently updated our “Residual Time to 25% Bee Mortality” (RT25) Data table.
RT25 data help farmers and beekeepers know about how long a specific pesticide may remain toxic to bees and other insect pollinators following foliar application to crops.

The Washington Post has also recently reported on some of our efforts, saying that “the Trump administration’s action [to protect pollinators] was welcome news to some environmentalists,” which demonstrates how united Americans are on this important issue.

These are just a few steps that EPA has taken to protect pollinators, and we remain committed to protecting pollinators this week and every week!

Wondering what you can do to protect pollinators? Growing different kinds of flowering plants to provide bees with pollen and nectar is one way that you can help. Another step you can take is reducing pesticide use. If you do need to use a pesticide, always read the label directions; they explain how to safely use it and ultimately protect our pollinators and our environment.

Learn more about pollinator protection at https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection.

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act: Three Years of Safer Chemicals

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Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, Assistant Administrator of EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Today we are proud to mark the third anniversary of the Lautenberg amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the first major update to an environmental statute in 20 years. EPA is implementing the law in a way that ensures the safety of chemicals in the marketplace and protects human health and the environment. The Important TSCA milestones outlined below were achieved through the hard work and dedication of EPA staff.

We’ve taken important steps to evaluate chemicals that are already in commerce:

  • In November 2018, we issued the first draft risk evaluation for Pigment Violet 29 (PV29) under the new law. We will release draft risk evaluations for the remaining chemicals currently under review in the coming months.
  • Earlier this year we banned sales to consumers of methylene chloride in paint removers and strengthened the regulation of asbestos to close a dangerous loophole and protect consumers.
  • We just finished collecting public comments on the next substances we’re considering for risk evaluation – both high-priority chemicals to review promptly and low-priority chemicals.

We’re pushing for increased transparency:

  • For the first time in 40 years, we identified a comprehensive list of chemicals that are actively being manufactured, processed and imported. The result of tremendous effort by stakeholders and manufacturers, this information will help us focus EPA’s risk evaluation efforts on chemicals that are still on the market.
  • After we released the draft PV29 risk evaluation, we worked with manufacturers to increase public accessibility to underlying studies and to refine our application of our systematic review framework. This framework is the way we select and review studies.
  • We are holding the first public meeting of EPA’s Science Advisory Committee on Chemicals (SACC) this week. The committee will review the PV29 draft risk evaluation and EPA will use its scientific advice as well as public comments to inform the final risk evaluation.
  • EPA is moving toward more real-time publication of information received regarding new chemical notices.

Finally, we’re striving to be good public stewards:

  • The TSCA fees rule allows EPA to collect fees from certain chemical manufacturers and importers for specific activities. We estimate that we will reduce taxpayer burden by an annual average of $20 million.

We’re looking forward to the years ahead of better chemical management and protection of our health and environment. We have accomplished much in the three years since Lautenberg, and we’re just getting started.

About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.

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.

Cleaning Up Pollution from Old Mines

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by Tom Damm

Officials celebrate progress

Officials celebrate progress

It was a day of celebration along the water’s edge in West Virginia.

On a recent Friday afternoon, U.S. EPA, West Virginia officials and other partners marked early success in reviving a long-dead stretch of Muddy Creek in Preston County.

Hours later and a few miles away, the local folk group, Meadow Run, struck up its first song to kick off the 25th Annual Cheat River Festival, a tribute to sustained efforts led by the non-profit, Friends of the Cheat, to restore the Cheat River and tributaries like Muddy Creek.

The lower 3.4 miles of Muddy Creek had been ruined for decades by a pair of infamous mine blowouts and an orange tide of acidic pollution.

But an innovative regulatory approach by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and EPA is working to clean the troubled section and bring fish back to its waters.

Speaking at an event in the shadow of a creek-side treatment plant that scrubs a steady flow of polluted mine water, EPA’s Kate McManus praised the state-federal cooperation that led to the improvements.

“This is a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together and use common sense approaches,” said Kate, deputy director of EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Water Division.

Cleaning the water

Cleaning the water

The treatment plant is part of a strategy that includes a regulatory fix to treat mine water from all sources in the watershed. EPA approved a variance and worked with the state to develop a first-of-its-kind permit in West Virginia incorporating “in-stream” techniques to neutralize acidity and reduce metals.

EPA also provided Clean Water Act funding for Muddy Creek improvements, as it did when the agency financed projects to help restore the Cheat River.

Well before festival favorite, Stewed Mulligan, wrapped up the first day of the Cheat Fest, the crowd had been given the good news of improvements in the local waters, making the group’s “old backwoods sound with a string band tradition” that much sweeter.

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Division.

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.

Honoring Contributions of Our Small Businesses

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Denise Benjamin Sirmons, Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
By Denise Benjamin Sirmons
Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

There are 30 million small businesses in America employing nearly 59 million workers. These numbers keep growing as America’s economy is booming. From reduced taxes to providing regulatory certainty, American small businesses are thriving in the most business-friendly environment in decades. America’s economy is expanding along with small business opportunities in part because EPA is leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs by ensuring regulations are clear and consistent for businesses large and small. During the Trump Administration, EPA has committed to become an even stronger ally of small business.

As part of National Small Business Week, EPA is honoring the contributions of small businesses in creating jobs, driving innovation and strengthening the national economy while also protecting the environment. We will do this by continuing our commitment to advancing the President’s policies that ensure we have a thriving economy and healthy environment.

EPA will also present the Administrator’s Small Business Program awards to several EPA small business contractors on May 9, 2019. One small business that will receive an award for Outstanding Accomplishments by a Small Business Contractor is Green Technologies, LLC.. Green Technologies is a Florida-based company that is active in community environmental initiatives through its support of the St. Johns River Keepers and the Sierra Club. It sponsors educational outreach programs for public school science fairs and donates products for school beautification projects. Green Technologies contributes to local Earth Day Celebrations and sponsors charitable events for a range of not-for-profit organizations. EPA will also present an award to Environmental Compliance Office, Incorporated (ECO) for Outstanding Accomplishments by a Woman-Owned Small Business Contractor.

In addition to these small business awards, EPA will recognize the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG), for its outstanding contributions as a large EPA prime contractor. Thirty years ago, EPA named ERG as its Small Business Contractor of the Year. This week’s award to ERG as a large prime contractor, acknowledges ERG’s outstanding support to EPA’s small business subcontracting program. Over the past 35 years, ERG has served all of EPA’s major offices through more than 200 prime contracts. Based on its experience as a small business itself, ERG works efficiently and effectively with its small business partners—promptly paying subcontractors, establishing clear communication channels, and helping them understand EPA’s contracting requirements. ERG has built long-lasting relationships with small business suppliers across many different types of projects. In 2018, more than 80 of ERG’s subcontract awards under seven contracts went to small businesses. Under another EPA contract, nearly 90 percent of subcontracting dollars went to small businesses; more than 20 percent to small disadvantaged businesses, and more than 17 percent went to service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.

About the author: Denise Benjamin Sirmons serves as the Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, responsible for leading the EPA’s efforts to advance the business, regulatory and environmental compliance concerns of small and disadvantaged businesses. Read more.

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.

Big Data Offers Big Insights into Links Between Environment, Heart Health

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Cavin Ward-Caviness, EPA Computational Biologist
By Dr. Cavin Ward-Caviness
Principal Investigator (Computational Biologist); U.S. EPA, ORD, NHEERL, EPHD, CRB

Air Quality Awareness Week, April 29-May 3, is a perfect time to think about how far we have come in understanding how air pollution affects the cardiovascular system. As a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientist studying heart disease, I am very excited about current and future research in this area. Though the burden of heart disease on our society remains high (see the American Heart Association 2018 Statistics on Heart Disease and Stroke), we have only to look at the promising lines of current, cutting-edge research to find reasons to be optimistic about the progress we are making in our understanding and treatment of heart disease.

Perhaps the biggest reason for my optimism is that we are increasingly aware of heart disease risk factors and are working to lower those risks. Importantly, we are beginning to fully appreciate the role that a healthy environment plays in maintaining a healthy heart.

The primary way air pollution impacts heart health is through cardiovascular complications. The EPA is a world leader in research designed to improve our understanding of the potential risk that air pollution poses to people with heart disease. I am optimistic that such research will lead to improved communication about environmental health and potentially even preventative treatment solutions.

One of the many cutting-edge research areas at the EPA is the use of electronic health records for environmental studies. This research relies entirely on the anonymous participation of patients who decide to advance science by allowing their medical records to be used for research. While many may think that their participation could lead to a new drug being developed, it also informs the role that the environment plays in heart health, which is just as important for saving and improving lives.

transparent graphic of human heart over heartbeat monitorMy lab has recently established the EPA Clinical and Archived records Research for Environmental Studies (CARES) resource to improve the EPA’s efforts to work with healthcare providers to enable air pollution research using electronic health records. With ongoing projects into environmental risks for heart attack survivors and those with heart failure, we are beginning to answer important questions about environmental health and the causes of complications, hospitalizations, and even death for patient communities that many of us, or our loved ones, belong to.

As we all use Air Quality Awareness Week to reflect on how we can improve heart health, let us focus our attention on how each of us can lead better, more heart healthy lives and our opportunities to contribute to life saving research. I am proud to be a part of the fight against heart and blood vessel disease. I am also truly optimistic about the heart health of our Nation as we better understand what makes a “heart healthy environment” and as we translate our understanding into actions and solutions for all Americans.

About the author: EPA computational biologist Cavin Ward-Caviness helps determine which populations are most susceptible to air pollution. His research focuses on understanding the impact of environmental or neighborhood factors, such as living in a neighborhood with lower socioeconomic factors, on health, and the biological pathways that link exposures and health.

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.

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EPA Scientists Support Air Quality Awareness

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EPA Lab Director Dr. Wayne Cascio
By Wayne E. Cascio
MD, FACC, Director, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

April 29 – May 3 is Air Quality Awareness Week, and the research staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development are raising awareness about the relationship between air pollution and heart and blood vessel disease. As a public health organization, we at the EPA continue to study the effects of environmental quality on heart and blood vessel health.

The most recent statistics on heart disease and stroke in the U.S. were published by the American Heart Association (AHA) on January 31, 2019. The statistics remind us once again that while tremendous progress has been made in reducing the impact of heart disease and stroke over the past five decades, it is still the leading cause of death in the United States. The AHA estimates that in 2018 over 90 million American adults (about 22% of the adult US population) had suffered a stroke or were living with a condition affecting the heart. And it’s concerning that obesity among American adults is increasing and diabetes, another risk factor for heart disease, affected almost 1 in 10 American adults as of 2018.

So, while the prevention of heart disease is straightforward – don’t smoke, be active and get plenty of exercise, control blood pressure and cholesterol, make a heart healthy diet a habit, avoid obesity and treat diabetes – only 2% of American adults meet all of these ideal behaviors.

3D rendered illustration of the human heartOver the last year, research conducted by EPA scientists contributed important new knowledge about the relationship between air pollution and heart and blood vessel disease. We learned in a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in April 2018, that wildfire smoke can trigger heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms in people predisposed to heart conditions. Ozone and air particle pollution may affect the electrical properties of the heart and this might explain the association between air pollution and abnormal heart rhythms, as found in another study published in October 2018 in Particle and Fibre Toxicology. In other research, EPA discovered that air pollution can increase some types of cholesterol in a way that suggests a higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Importantly, we found that improved air quality and meeting the EPA’s outdoor air quality standards has decreased the risk of air pollution- related premature death in the U.S.

Air Quality Awareness Week is an opportunity to bring attention to the research showing potential links between air pollution and health and recall the many members of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who have been or are affected by heart disease and stroke. As scientists in the Office of Research and Development at EPA, we are proud of our contribution to the prevention of heart disease and stroke as we provide the scientific foundation for decisions made by states and communities to protect the environment, public health and heart health.

Learn more about EPA’s Healthy Heart research

About the author: EPA Lab Director Dr. Wayne Cascio spent more than 25 years as a cardiologist helping people take care of their hearts. Now he is bringing a broader view of public health to EPA by leading research on the links between exposures to air pollution and maintaining a healthy heart.

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.