by Paul T. Anastas, Ph.D | Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has said time and again that science is the backbone of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency depends upon its scientists and engineers, together with an extensive network of their research colleagues — supported through agency partnerships, grants, awards, and fellowships — to provide the high caliber research, analysis and assessments needed to protect human health and the environment.
For 40 years, EPA has been a world leader in scientific research in human health and environmental protection. Agency science has played a critical role in landmark environmental achievements that have made a real difference, particularly for those living in urban communities such as Washington DC. EPA science led to actions to greatly reduce exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, remove lead from gasoline, reduce air pollution, and lower the risk from exposures to toxins in the environment. The cumulative benefits have reduced contamination, decreased pollution, restored ecosystems, improved public health, and increased overall life expectancy for all Americans.
Building on that legacy, EPA science is now poised to advance human health and environmental protection on a path toward sustainability. Agency research leaders have been working together and engaging stakeholders to build an overall research portfolio that will leverage EPA’s science efforts to meet the information needs of the EPA and its partners, while simultaneously advancing environmental solutions for a sustainable future.
EPA scientists are erasing the boundaries between scientific disciplines to create a set of integrated, trans-disciplinary research programs: air, climate and energy; safe and sustainable water resources; sustainable and healthy communities; chemical safety for sustainability; human health risk assessment; and homeland security research.
The realigned research plan aims to approach environmental challenges with a holistic, systems perspective. It will allow the agency to continue providing the high caliber science and engineering solutions needed to meet local and national environmental challenges in a cost-effective manner. In an era of challenging budgets, EPA’s new integrated research approach toward sustainability will bring cutting-edge science results to bear faster and more efficiently.
The end result of EPA’s science efforts will be to continue to build on the agency’s legacy of achievement, while helping communities across the United States protect their environment and move forward on a path toward a sustainable future.
Paul T. Anastas is the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development. To learn more about EPA’s science and technology efforts please visitwww.epa.gov/research.