The EPA Blog The EPA Blog Fri, 22 May 2015 18:33:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 It’s Don’t Fry Day– Protect Your Skin Today and Every Day Fri, 22 May 2015 18:30:27 +0000 Today is Don’t Fry Day, a day designated to remind Americans about the dangers of skin cancer and how to protect themselves. As we enter the summer season, we join with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to remind Americans that each year more people are diagnosed with this largely preventable disease. Today, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, affecting nearly five million Americans annually with a price tag of $8.1 billion. Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

The SunWise program works to educate Americans about the simple steps they can take to stay safe in the sun all year long. These tips include checking the UV Index to plan outdoor activities when the sun is less intense. Our free UV Index app gives you an hourly forecast from your smartphone. Seek shade during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. And, my personal favorite: Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap: Slip on a shirt. Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen. Slap on a wide-brimmed hat, and wrap on sunglasses.

This month marks the 15th anniversary of SunWise. Since 2000, more than 58,000 educators have joined SunWise and used its educational resources to teach children about stratospheric ozone, UV radiation, and the health effects of overexposure to UV radiation. These educators represent more than 34,000 schools and over 7,000 other partners from state and local health departments, non-profits, science and children’s museums, camps, scouts, 4-H clubs, and universities.

I’m proud of what we, together with our partners, have achieved. As we celebrate SunWise’s anniversary, I am pleased to announce a new collaboration between EPA and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) that will extend the reach of SunWise and keep the momentum going. In working with health professionals, weathercasters, land managers, teachers and others, NEEF connects with millions of people and will be able to bring important SunWise messages and actions to a new and broader audience.

Today, we formalized this collaborative relationship with NEEF in a Memorandum of Understanding. I’m looking forward to a bright future for SunWise but some shade for me this weekend!

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This Week in EPA Science Fri, 22 May 2015 16:22:08 +0000 By Kacey Fitzpatrickresearch_recap_250

While astronomical summer doesn’t start for a few weeks,  I consider it summer as soon as I make the switch to iced coffee. For many, the season kicks off this weekend with pool parties, barbecues, and trips to the beach.

Stuck in traffic? Waiting for the burgers to be flipped? In line for your iced coffee? Perfect time to catch up on the latest in EPA science!

Here’s this week’s recap.

  • EPA’s 2015 Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award Winner Named at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
    The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Joshua Zhou, a high school sophomore from Chapel Hill, NC, won EPA’s 2015 Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award for his sustainable and affordable solution to water pollution.
    Read more about the winner in this news release.
  • EPA’s International Decontamination Conference
    Last week, researchers from all over the world descended upon EPA’s Research Triangle Park campus in Durham, NC for the International Decontamination Conference. Decontamination is one of the critical challenges that the United States would face in recovering from a major disaster involving chemical, biological, or radiological agents. EPA researchers and their partners are working together to meet that challenge.
    Read more about the conference in the blog Experts Agree: Planning is the Key to Success.
  • A Healthy Environment for Healthy People
    Dr. Vivek Murthy, the newly-commissioned 19th Surgeon General of the United States, brings enormous passion and understanding of the challenges that face the nation and the world. Importantly for EPA and the American people, this includes the recognition and acknowledgment that our health and the environment in which we live are inexorably linked.
    Read more about “America’s Doctor” in the blog Public Health and the Environment: We’re All in this Together.
  • Bike to Work 2015: Pedaling Toward Sustainability
    May is National Bike Month! Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Lek Kadeli, is a regular bike commuter between his home in Virginia and EPA’s headquarters in downtown Washington, DC. Last year while at an environmental conference he had the opportunity to pedal around Shkodra, Albania, confirming his belief that there is no better way to get to know a place than from a bicycle.
    Read more about biking to work in the blog Bike to Work 2015: Pedaling Toward Sustainability.

If you have any comments or questions about what I share or about the week’s events, please submit them below in the comments section!

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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Building Community Resiliency by Training the Next Generation Fri, 22 May 2015 13:05:19 +0000 by Patrick A. Barnes

In 2011, the first of the baby boomers reached retirement age.  And for the foreseeable future, boomers will be retiring at a rate of 10,000 a day, nearly a quarter million a month.

In an effort to help compensate for its retiring workforce, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) launched several initiatives to reach individuals within communities of need to find future water/wastewater plant operators. One such initiative resulted in a very unique and timely partnership with Limitless Vistas, Inc. (LVI), supported by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At LVI, our mission is to serve at-risk, underserved, and under-employed young adults, ages 18 to 29 years.  Through our program, participants obtain certifications, knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience in the environmental industry.  Near the end of their training, LVI participants serve in internships with S&WB and local environmental and engineering firms. These internships help the students learn more about potential careers within the environmental industry. It also gives potential employers a chance to work with non-traditional future employees and discover their talents and enthusiasm before offering them a job.

Granville Guillory has used this opportunity to truly excel.

Granville was 20 when he came to LVI after several personal hardships and dropping out of college. His aunt heard about the LVI program and suggested he give it a try.  During his interview, Granville indicated he wanted to work for S&WB and follow in his uncle’s footsteps.  According to Granville, his uncle had worked at the S&WB for most of his life and he was “set.” Granville was looking for the same type of stability in his life.

Granville, along with several other students, were there on June 21, 2012, when EPA announced that LVI was among the recipients of an EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant. There, Granville discussed his desire to work for the S&WB. His sincerity and personal enthusiasm earned him a private tour of the facility after the press conference.

Later that year, Granville and seven other LVI members participated in an internship at the local facility, where he continued to impress the staff with his work ethic, curiosity, and natural intuition for the work. And his hard work paid off! After passing the Wastewater Operators State Board Exam, Granville and another student were asked to join Veolia North America (the plant operator) as full-time employees.

Now at age 23, Granville is excelling as a State of Louisiana Class III Wastewater Plant Operator and, as he puts it, “if things go wrong, it is my responsibility to help make them right before any serious damage to the furnace or an emission violation occurs.” Because of his performance and interest in furnace operations, he was asked if he would be willing to travel overseas to broaden his skills. Later this year, Granville will be traveling to Tokyo for six months to learn about a new and more efficient furnace that Veolia is planning to incorporate in its U.S. operations.

Granville also has taken on an active role in mentoring new LVI participants and interns. With his enthusiasm, they are able to see the bigger picture through discussions with him and strive harder to achieve their goals — just like Granville did.

I firmly believe that there cannot be true environmental justice without economic justice, and this tremendous need represents a unique opportunity for impacted residents to obtain meaningful jobs, thus putting them on a path to economic equality and ultimately, helping to build the socio-economic strength necessary for communities like Granville’s more resilient for the future.  It truly takes a unique team of partners working together across governments and with local communities and industry, to connect the dots for environmental workforce development and job training programs to succeed!

About the author: Patrick A. Barnes, President of BFA Environmental is a professional geologist and founder of LVI.  Patrick recently was honoured as a White House Champion of Change Community Resiliency Leader.  Patrick first envisioned LVI in 1997 after years of performing environmental engineering services to poor communities working as an EPA Technical Assistant Grant (TAG) advisor and after working on several Brownfields redevelopment projects in the Southeast.  

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Rain Barrels of Savings Thu, 21 May 2015 18:07:02 +0000 by Jennie Saxe

As I spent a recent weekend doing springtime yard work, I noticed that the side yard of my house seems to have washed away over the past few years. After a short investigation, I realized that three downspouts on my home pointed at this exact location. I wondered…could I use green infrastructure to help slow the flow of rainwater?

I decided to install a rain barrel to direct some of the rain water to storage instead of letting it flow as run-off across the ground. Reducing the amount of run-off from my roof will keep the soil from washing away. As an added benefit, the stored rain water will be perfect for watering our flowers and vegetable garden.

Full disclosure: DIY is not my strong suit. Even though it’s fairly simple to build your own rain barrel, I purchased mine. All that was left was to follow the directions for connecting it to a downspout.  Here’s the finished product:

A recent, brief rain shower filled about one-third of this rain barrel.

A recent, brief rain shower filled about one-third of this rain barrel.

The rain barrel was installed in a couple of hours, but I did make some rookie mistakes. If you’re thinking about installing your first rain barrel, here are some helpful hints:

  • Location: I knew which downspout to connect to, but I also had to be sure I was able to connect a hose. I also had to consider where excess water would drain once the barrel was filled. Excess water can be directed to overflow, to another rain barrel, or to a rain garden.
  • Safety: A 60-gallon rain barrel will weigh 500 pounds when full, so it’s a good idea to make sure that little ones won’t be tempted to play around it. I used a bed of stones to make sure the base of the rain barrel was sturdy in all weather and able to support the weight of the barrel. To protect against mosquitos using your rain water as a breeding ground, be sure to have screening over all openings.
  • Level: This was the hardest part. Since you won’t want to move the rain barrel once it’s installed, take all the time you need on this step.
  • Have the right tools: If you purchase your rain barrel, follow the instructions. Common tools will include a level, a hacksaw, and a tape measure. Be sure you also have gloves and eye protection – a cut aluminum gutter can be sharp!

Now, if it would just rain! The conditions in my area have just been declared “abnormally dry” (designated “D0” on the U.S. Drought Monitor map). But with my rain barrel installed, I’ll be ready to save the rain when it does arrive.


About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs. She thanks fellow Healthy Waters bloggers Steve Donohue and Ken Hendrickson for their helpful hints on rain barrel installation.



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Sharing Best Sustainability Practices with Communities Thu, 21 May 2015 17:01:16 +0000

One of the most rewarding parts of my job here at EPA is the work we do with climate and energy program staff from communities and tribes across the country. These sustainability professionals are tireless organizers, skilled problem solvers, and endlessly enthusiastic about helping residents and businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, improve air quality and public health, create jobs, and save money. Despite common challenges they face I am always impressed by how much local sustainability professionals are able to accomplish with so little. By taking action on climate in their own back yards, they are building stronger and healthier communities – and looking out for all of our futures.

Part of our job here is to help local government employees achieve success. Our Local Climate and Energy Program conducts continued outreach by hosting webcasts, sending out newsletters about resources and funding opportunities, and producing resources and tools of our own.
Our latest round of resources are written by communities, for communities. Each resource was driven by community needs, inspired by actual implementation experiences, and informed by staff who have developed successful climate and energy programs. They provide practical steps for communities to follow when building or growing a climate and energy program. These new resources are the result of strong relationships we have built with communities and tribes across the country who have invested in achieving climate and energy results in their own backyards.

Local Climate Action Framework

This online guide provides step-by-step guidance and resources for local governments to plan, implement, and evaluate climate, energy, and sustainability projects and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change impacts. It captures lessons learned and effective strategies used by local governments, breaks down program implementation into concrete steps, and curates resources to help local governments find the information they need. The framework was developed with extensive input from local government stakeholders, including our Climate Showcase Communities.

Effective Practices for Implementing Local Climate and Energy Programs Tip Sheets

This series of nineteen tip sheets was developed based on the experience and feedback of our Climate Showcase Communities. Each tip sheet focuses on a different aspect of program operation and highlights best practices and helpful resources discovered or used by these communities. Topics include marketing and communications (effective messaging, traditional media strategies, community-based social marketing, and testimonial videos) and working with specific types of stakeholders (institutional partners, contractors, experts, utilities, early adopters, volunteers).

Local Climate and Energy Program Model Design Guide

This guide was developed for local climate and clean energy (i.e., energy efficiency, renewable energy, and combined heat and power) program implementers to help create or transition to program designs that are viable over the long term. The guide draws on the experience and examples of our Climate Showcase Communities as they developed innovative models for programs that could be financially viable over the long term and replicated in other communities.

Although climate change is a global issue, many critical actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to promote resilience can be initiated locally. Cities and towns across the U.S. are taking real action against climate change by talking to other communities and sharing practical step-by-step advice on planning and implementing local climate and energy programs,. I am thankful for the valuable input EPA received from local and tribal government stakeholders as we developed these resources and welcome feedback about the new materials.

About the author:

Andrea Denny is the Local Climate and Energy Program Lead in the State and Local Branch of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. The branch focuses on supporting state and local governments that are developing policies and programs to address climate change.

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Experts Agree: Planning is the Key to Success Thu, 21 May 2015 14:05:02 +0000 By Lahne Mattas-Curry

Natural disaster cleanup

Natural disaster cleanup

Last week, researchers from all over the world descended upon EPA’s Research Triangle Park campus in Durham, NC for the International Decontamination Conference. Decontamination is one of the critical challenges that the United States and EPA would face in recovering from a major chemical, biological, or radiological incident.

Throughout the conference, experts discussed the best practices for returning a community to normal operations following a number of attack scenarios including biological threats such as anthrax, ricin, and even ebola. Experts agreed the key to success was planning. Having a number of known and tested options for cleanup are important for decision makers in a time of crisis.

“Technical emergency response is very complex and difficult. Research to improve response must include the technical elements – what needs to be done – and the application elements – how you do it in the time of urgency and uncertainty.”

–Joseph Barbera, Co-Director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management

Experts from Japan discussed methods for reducing indoor contamination following the 2011 earthquake and the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Their findings are consistent with EPA research in reducing radiological contamination in residential areas and what EPA researchers found while providing technical assistance in Fukushima following the incident.

Something that is often overlooked in planning for decontamination is planning for waste. EPA researcher Paul Lemieux pointed out that while waste is typically viewed as a later phase of clean-up and not a function of initial disaster response, “waste will start being generated almost immediately after the initial contamination incident and as a result, pre-incident waste management planning is absolutely necessary.”

There was also a focus on drinking water and wastewater systems. Recently, EPA researchers collaborated with researchers at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory to build the Water Security Test Bed– a first of its kind water security research and testing center. This test bed gives researchers the capability to intentionally contaminate and test the response to a number of potential threats. EPA and DoE are opening up this test bed research to potential collaborators such as agencies within the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, universities, water utilities, and foundations interested in water security research.

This is the first in a series of blog posts about the International Decon Conference. More information about specific research will follow over the next several weeks.

For more information specifically about EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program, please visit:

About the Author: Lahne Mattas-Curry works with EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program to promote science to keep our communities safe and resilient.

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Wetlands Wednesday: Share My Surprising Trip Across Iowa Wed, 20 May 2015 19:42:11 +0000 By Cynthia Cassel

The third leg of our journey to the fascinating wetlands of the four Region 7 states has surprises in store, as we continue our May series to celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Wetlands Month. After my trip to Kansas’ wet meadows and farmed wetlands in last week’s blog, we now travel northeast to inviting Iowa.

In search of something to do that was slightly goofy while on a trip to the state, I planned a visit to the Amana Colonies in an effort to recreate Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic painting. We brought our own pitchfork and steel-rimmed glasses, and made complete fools of ourselves. Maybe not such a great idea, after all.

However, the rest of the trip all around Iowa was one of the best road trips we ever took. While admiring more of the beautiful green and gold croplands of the Heartland to be sure, we beheld a wonderful surprise: prairie potholes and fens.

Prairie Potholes and Fens

Washington State has an entire state park created around its potholes, but I never knew they existed in the Midwest until that trip. Seeming otherworldly, potholes look like craters created by shrapnel from a cosmic shotgun. We also marveled at the multitude of fens – rare, groundwater-fed places that feel like walking on a water bed. Think of peat bogs.

Prairie potholes and fens

Prairie potholes and fens

So here’s a tip: Go see the Grant Wood home, but be sure to make time to visit the potholes and fens, and take note of the rare plants and animals support by these wetlands. And then go ahead and visit the rest of the state. There’s much to do and see in the beautiful state of Iowa!

Prairie potholes are wetlands (primarily freshwater marshes) that develop when snowmelt and rain fill the pockmarks left on the landscape by land-scouring glaciers. Groundwater input is also important. Submerged and floating aquatic plants take over the deeper water in the middle of the pothole, while bulrushes and cattails grow closer to shore. Wet, sedgy marshes lie next to the uplands. In addition, many species of migratory waterfowl are dependent on the potholes for breeding and feeding.

Flowering plants in Iowa wetland

Flowering plants in Iowa wetland

Fens are alkaline (slightly acidic) wetlands less than 10 acres in size that are groundwater-fed and peat-forming. Their water supply is by surface water runoff and/or seepage from mineral soils. Fens are important sources of groundwater discharge and indicators of shallow aquifers. Most are found along stream terraces or at the base of slopes. Fens in headwater streams are difficult, if not impossible, to replace due to their unique hydrology. They’re often called “quakers” because the ground beneath them is saturated and spongy. A good jump on a fen will cause the ground to ripple for many feet.

These Iowa wetlands are important for environmental sustainability. Prairie potholes absorb surges of rain, snowmelt and floodwaters, thereby reducing the risk and severity of downstream flooding.


Cynthia Cassel has worked as a Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) Program grantee with EPA Region 7’s Wetlands and Streams Protection Team for 5½ years. She received her Bachelor of Science from Park University. Cynthia lives in Overland Park, Kan.

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EPA: Launching a New Era of State, Tribal, Local and International Partnerships Wed, 20 May 2015 19:35:47 +0000 Our work with state, tribal, local and international partners forms an “environmental enterprise” that is critical to advancing environmental and human health protection across the country and the globe.  As captured in our FY14-FY18 Strategic Plan, our New Era of State, Tribal, Local and International Partnerships is a vital pillar among our Cross-Agency Strategies. I thank everyone at EPA for working in collaboration with our partners – governors, tribal leaders, environmental and agricultural commissioners, city and county leaders, and so many others. This spring, I asked EPA employees to share their best practices, innovative solutions and successes in building partnerships. There are so many successes I learned about, ranging from the routine to multi-faceted and complicated matters.  Here are a handful of successes that I’d like to highlight.

State, Local and Other Partners Protecting School Indoor Air Quality group#– Nearly 56 million people spend their days inside elementary and secondary schools in the US. Since the mid-1990s, EPA’s Indoor Environments Division (IED) has supported states, schools and school districts in their work to improve indoor air quality in schools and protect the health of their students and staff.

In 2012, the IED schools team launched the School Health and Indoor Environments Leadership Development (SHIELD) Network, a dynamic collaboration of more than 80 leaders from school districts, state and local governments and other partners committed to improving IAQ in schools. SHIELD events have resulted in thousands of school district decision makers trained to make their school indoor environments healthier, cleaner and safer places.

International Partnership for a Cleaner Environment

man#The Asia-Pacific is the world’s fastest-growing region. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), Office of International and Tribal Affairs (OITA) and the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) are partnering with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) to address high priority global research needs. Together, they identified seven focus areas, including water resources, air quality and climate issues.

One project leverages work with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) and with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop international testing protocols and standards for cookstoves, a source of household air pollution in parts of the world. These standards will contribute to cleaner and more efficient cookstoves with reduced impacts on air quality, climate and health. Another project uses an EPA-developed real-time monitoring technology to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants from waste combustion.

State and EPA Partnership to Increase Productivity

pesticidesStates’ pesticide program directors working through their Association of American Pesticide Control Officials, EPA Regions, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) united to bring the jobs of state and federal pesticides inspectors into the 21st Century.

Pesticide labels provide important information on the proper and safe use of a pesticide. Enforcement officers are sent into the marketplace to inspect labels to ensure that products are properly labeled. The Pesticides Label Matching Project proposes to develop software for smart phones and tablets to take images of pesticide product labels in the field and then electronically compare them to the master labels in OPP databases, avoiding manual review. A recent cost benefit analysis of this project projects a cost reduction of from $476/label review to $79/label review. That’s a reduction of approximately 83%!

Hazardous Waste Training for Tribes

mantruck#An EPA Hazardous Waste grant to the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, representing and serving 21 New Mexico pueblos and tribes, and the Ysleta de Sur Pueblo in Texas, is helping the Council fill a gap in their environmental and public health program. Because many tribes and pueblos are hours away from technical assistance and major disposal facilities, hazardous waste is a top environmental and health concern.

This grant will assist the Council by providing local 8-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response training to tribal employees, educating them about the treatment, storage and disposal of household hazardous waste, developing a spill prevention and response plan, and responding to small hazardous waste incidents. The employees will, in turn, educate their communities about household hazardous waste and safer alternatives.

Developing and Implementing a Zero Waste Plan

guamzerowasteplan#EPA Region 9, together with the Guam Governor’s Office, Guam EPA, the Department of Defense and community members, worked to develop and implement Sustainable Materials Management through Guam’s Zero Waste Plan, with short, mid and long-term action items.

Among many results of Guam’s Zero Waste Plan, Guam’s recycling rate went from 18% to 32% in just two years and tons recycled and composted rose from 29,039/year to 41,032/year. The Zero Waste Plan has become a model for other Pacific Islands and can be used to advance zero waste and sustainability partnerships on islands and in remote and underserved communities.

As you can see from these examples, stronger partnerships, closer coordination and innovation across all government levels that we can strengthen environmental protection and achieve a healthier environment for all.

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How you can help people make safer choices every day Wed, 20 May 2015 17:41:29 +0000 By David DiFiore

How many people can say they really love their job? Lucky for me, I’m one of those people. As part of the Safer Choice Program the work I do helps people make safer choices for their families, pets, and the environment every day.

Safer Choice is our label for safer chemical-based products, like all-purpose cleaners, laundry detergents, degreasers, and many others.  Each day, consumers, custodians, cleaning staffs, and others use these products, and families, building occupants, and visitors are exposed to them.  The Safer Choice program ensures that labeled products—and every ingredient in them—meet the program’s stringent health and environmental criteria—and perform well, too.

Working in the Safer Choice Program, I have the privilege of seeing the results of our work in many tangible forms in real-time, every day. When I go to the grocery store and see a labeled product on the shelf, I know that the work I do helps protect people, animals and the environment from toxic chemicals.

So how can you help people make safer choices?

Also, if you’re interested in helping people make safer choices across the country, take a look at two new Safer Choice job announcements.  We’re looking to build our team to take on the enormous opportunities in labeling safer personal care products.  Perhaps we’ll get to share the adventure.

Learn more about Safer Choice

Connect with us on Facebook

About the Author: David DiFiore has worked for the Safer Choice Program since 1997. Before that, David worked in several other EPA programs, including the New Chemicals Program, where he learned the science and art of identifying and promoting safer chemicals and products.

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Public Health and the Environment: We’re All in this Together Tue, 19 May 2015 18:53:30 +0000 By Dr. Wayne Cascio

“Public health does not exist in a vacuum. It is intrinsically linked to education, employment, the environment and our economy. There is a whole world beyond hospital corridors and clinic waiting rooms where people are struggling with issues of transportation, housing and development.”

These inspirational words were spoken by Dr. Vivek Murthy, the newly-commissioned 19th Surgeon General of the United States.

Swearing in of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in Conmy Hall on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall April 22, 2015, in Arlington, Va. (Photo courtesy of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, PAO photo by Damien Salas)

Vice President Joe Biden administers the oath to incoming U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, April 22, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, by Damien Salas)

Dr. Murthy made the above remarks as he addressed those gathered at Fort Myers in northern Virginia on April 22, 2015 at his formal commissioning. The event included the ceremonial passing of the emblem of the U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corp, symbolizing the acceptance of responsibility to lead the more than 6,500 officers working throughout the U.S. and abroad to protect human health.

As “America’s Doctor,” Dr. Murthy brings enormous passion and understanding of challenges that face the nation and the world. Importantly for our Agency and the American people, this includes the recognition and acknowledgment that our health and the environment in which we live are inexorably linked. Dr. Murthy embraces the understanding that a healthy environment is necessary for healthy people.

“We will work to move from a culture of treatment to one of prevention. But while the mark of a great nation may be in how we care for our most vulnerable, the test of a strong nation is how good we are at keeping them from getting sick in the first place,” he said.

I had the great fortune to be in attendance to hear such remarks first hand. I found the experience inspirational, reaffirming the principles of why I initially chose to become a physician, and again why I chose to redirect my medical career several years ago to advancing environmental public health.

To the many members of the Commissioned Corp working within the EPA we salute you for your service and commitment to our Country and people throughout the world, most notably for your recent work in West Africa in the fight against ebola. We here at the EPA look forward to being Dr. Murthy’s partners as we strive to protect public health and our environment.

About the Author: Dr. Wayne Cascio spent more than 25 years as a cardiologist before joining EPA’s Office of Research and Development where he now leads research on the links between exposures to air pollution and public health, and how people can use that information to maintain healthy hearts.

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