Science Wednesday: Post 9/11: EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program

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By Jonathan Herrmann, P.E., BCEE

I have spent almost my entire career in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. During that time, I’ve been involved in many areas of research related to environmental protection and human health. I have also managed various parts of the Agency’s science enterprise from Superfund remediation to mercury risk management. Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my career has been the last ten years dealing with scientific and technical issues for the Agency’s Homeland Security Research Program (HSRP).

When a number of us started the Program, we primarily learned by doing. Sometimes we had false starts. What really helped was the tremendous support from our EPA leaders. There was a clear mission and vision for our efforts and adequate resources were available to do the job. Most importantly, all of us were dedicated to the idea that we could make a difference in protecting the nation and the public with our work.

As Director of EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center, I am proud to announce we have produced a special edition of EPA’s Science Matters newsletter highlighting our accomplishments in homeland security research over the past eight years. The newsletter commemorates the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by reporting on what we’ve learned and accomplished since then.

It starts with a lead article by Debbie Dietrich, the Associate Administrator for Homeland Security providing an overview of how the HSRP fits with EPA’s homeland security roles and responsibilities, health and environmental protection programs and regional response capabilities. In my Executive Message, I offer an overview of the history of our National Homeland Security Research Center’s accomplishments and future direction. Members of our Senior Leadership Team add their views on the importance of our collaborations with other EPA programs, federal departments and agencies.

Additional articles highlight:

  • our advances in developing Provisional Advisory Levels that guide response and recovery actions following a chemical accident or incident,
  • the sampling and analytical methods we’ve developed for laboratories involved in responding to homeland security incidents,
  • several of our innovative water security detection systems and models
  • advances in decontamination science and engineering
  • and, our I-WASTE decision tools that help clean-up teams safely dispose of contaminated debris.

To read the newsletter and learn more about how EPA is science is advancing homeland security, visit.

About the Author: Jonathan Herrmann, P.E., BCEE, is the director of EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center.

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