Safer Choice is a Great Choice for Clean Water

by Krsafe choice logoistian Blessington

Growing up in Florida, surrounded by water, I’ve always enjoyed the many recreational opportunities on its lakes, rivers, springs, and beaches. Spending so much time in such beautiful and pristine surroundings instilled in me an appreciation for the natural environment, as well as a sense of its fragility and need for its preservation.

These feelings persist, perhaps even more strongly, since I’ve joined EPA and now pursue my love of outdoor activities in the Mid-Atlantic. They inspire my work with the Safer Choice program, and our efforts to prevent pollution of our nation’s water bodies through the promotion of sustainable products.

Safer Choice is EPA’s label for cleaning and other products made with safer chemical ingredients. Leveraging our Agency’s more than 40 years of experience assessing the human and environmental safety of chemicals, more than 2,000 products we all use every day qualify to carry the Safer Choice label, such as multi-purpose cleaners, hand soaps, car and boat care products, floor cleaners, pet care products, and many more. Safer Choice-labeled products contain ingredients that are safer for aquatic life and the environment and for your family, community, and pets.

To be eligible for the label, a product must meet the Safer Choice Standard, which is green chemistry-focused and grounded in stringent human health and environmental criteria.  Safer Choice evaluates all intentionally added ingredients in a product, regardless of percentage. That means Safer Choice-labeled products contain only the safest possible ingredients, while still meeting performance requirements.  Importantly, for products intended for use outdoors (bypassing the drain and sewage treatment, directly entering the environment), such as car and boat cleaners, Safer Choice has a higher bar to provide aquatic life with an extra margin of protection.

And there’s even more good news for our waterways. Labeled products are made with ingredients that, once they enter the local watershed, will break down more quickly through natural processes. The result: less pollution in streams, less contamination of the food chain, reduced impacts on water treatment facilities compared to conventional products, and less damage to the ecosystem.  This is something anglers, boaters, and beach-goes will appreciate.

For more information on the U.S. EPA Safer Choice Program and to find Safer Choice-labeled products.

 

About the Author: Kristian has been with EPA since 2016. He works in the Safer Choice program on outreach and program support initiatives. He previously worked with state and local governments in Florida on community health assessments and health education initiatives. He lives in DC, and is an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast.

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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Leaving a Clean Water Legacy

by Tom Damm

Jon Capacasa

Jon Capacasa

As you approached Jon Capacasa’s office, the first thing you noticed were the articles, notes and other tidbits of progress and encouragement taped to his door, centered with the words, “Celebrate! Celebrate!”

During Jon’s more than 42-year career at EPA, including the past 13 years as director of the Mid-Atlantic Region’s Water Protection Division, there was much to celebrate in his commitment to clean water.

Jon retired this week having served as a leading figure in the major initiatives and innovative actions that distinguished the region in improving water resources and public health.

His biggest impact was on the Chesapeake Bay – from the time on a Sunday in 1990 when he was called at home and asked to serve as the Bay’s Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator.

From there, he helped to start the Chesapeake Bay Program Office, served for a year as its first acting director and then nine years as its deputy director, guided the planning and drafting of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement, and had a chief role in developing and implementing the landmark Chesapeake Bay TMDL, or “pollution diet.”

Along the way, Jon issued a nutrient permitting approach that helped the wastewater sector achieve its Bay pollution goals 10 years ahead of schedule – topping the list of positive signs of Bay progress that include sharp increases in bay grasses, blue crabs and oysters, a majority of cleaner running rivers and a shrinking “dead zone.”

But Jon’s career has involved far more than the Bay.

Among his hallmark achievements, Jon co-founded the Schuylkill Action Network and helped form other key partnerships to protect source waters, established three of the top five penalty actions in Clean Water Act history, led efforts to restore streams and rivers – from the Delaware to the “forgotten” Anacostia, drove new technologies, and was a pioneer in the green infrastructure movement to control stormwater pollution and improve communities.

Jon is quick to acknowledge the team effort involved in his work, taking pride in the positive reinforcement he provides to staff to achieve incremental success and “turn great ideas into reality.”

The office items Jon packed up over the past few days are a reflection of his career as well as his approach to the job and life in general.  Among them were:

  • A framed copy of the Bay TMDL cover with a pen used to sign it.
  • Photos of his family and one of Roberto Clemente, a boyhood baseball hero, whose creativity, excellence and low-key manner served as an inspiration.
  • A host of plaques and awards.
  • An “Easy” button that was rarely pressed considering the tough decisions he was involved in on a seemingly daily basis.

As he steps away from what he called “the greatest mission in the world” to relish more time with his family and do some teaching and traveling, his legacy of clean water will continue on at EPA, as will his impact on the lives of people across the region.

 

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