By: Dahnish Shams
As an EPA summer intern, I got a firsthand look at how essential science is to the operations of the Agency and of its immense importance to us all.
Stationed at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, I was quickly introduced to some of the science products that support so much of what EPA does to protect human health and the environment. Chemical assessments in EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program and Integrated Science Assessments (ISAs) for the six criteria air pollutants (ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, and lead) inform the public and decision makers of the potential hazards threatening public health and the environment. These scientific products provide the basis for many of the rules the agency generates.
Yet, when you look beyond the products and their implications, what I have learned during my 10-week internship is that so much of the Agency’s work is truly defined by individuals, such as the scientists, communications staff, and support specialists that work as a team to conduct assessments. I saw that despite numerous obstacles, there is continued determination by this team of professionals to consistently devise strategies and methods to overcome the challenges that naturally arise as chemicals and humans interact in increasingly complex ways with the environment.
So as I conclude my internship, this blog post is meant to acknowledge the passion, determination, and teamwork exemplified by the people that I have met at the Agency this summer. These qualities are reflected through the continued efforts to improve IRIS chemical assessments, through climate assessments of ecosystems from across the country, and by the continual production of high quality ISAs – all of which provide a critical part of the scientific foundation for EPA’s decisions to protect human health and the environment.
If there is one message that I will take away from the Agency this summer, and one that I hope you gather from this post, is that I am proud to have been associated with EPA, and with the National Center for Environmental Assessment and the people that work here in particular. Though there are challenges in assessing the environment in the 21st century, they showed me through their passion, dedication, and teamwork that producing high quality science does truly matter.
About the Author: Dahnish Shams was a summer intern with EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment.