EPA reports on progress in use of ‘sound science’

March 14, 2003 — In its recently released annual report for 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that it has improved its use of ‘sound science’ to achieve practical pollution reduction goals.

The American public, EPA, Congress, and the research community have expressed growing concern about the effects of acidic deposition on the lakes and streams of the United States.

Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments sets target reductions for sulfur and nitrogen emissions from industrial sources as a means of reducing the acidity of deposition and thereby improving the biological condition of surface waters.

In FY 2002 EPA produced a report on trends in acid deposition and the acidity of lakes and streams in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions of the United States.

The report provides evidence that acid deposition controls are working. Researchers found that all regions except the Blue Ridge area have experienced significant declines in sulfate concentrations in surface waters, consistent with a decline in sulfate precipitation.

Nitrate concentrations decreased in two regions. The highest nitrate concentrations were found in the Adirondacks and northern Appalachian plateau; however, acid-neutralizing capacity increased in the Adirondacks, northern Appalachian plateau, and upper Midwest, and modest increases in neutralizing capacity have reduced the number of acidic lakes and streams in some of these regions.

For example, the number of acidic lakes in the upper Midwest fell from 251 to 80 between 1985 and 2001. Acid-neutralizing capacity is a key indicator of recovery because it reflects the capacity of watersheds to buffer inputs of acidity.

The National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP) will include the results of this analysis in its report to Congress and will be available at http://www.oar.noaa.gov/organization/napap.html.

Another significant FY 2002 achievement involved the completion of a framework that provides the Agency with the necessary components to determine the routes, magnitude, and variability of human exposures to various multimedia pollutants (e.g., pesticides, air toxics, metals).

Through the framework, EPA will advance the science of human exposure and dose assessment by helping to answer key questions regarding pollutants that pose significant risk to children and other susceptible subpopulations.

In response to recommendations from the Science Advisory Board (SAB), EPA also completed analyses of the National Human Exposure Assessment Survey, a program investigating critical information gaps about population-scale distributions of human exposures to contaminant mixtures.

These analyses provide aggregate exposure data to evaluate many multimedia and media-specific risk management issues and to improve exposure methods and models.

EPA developed two new protocols for use in the Agency’s endocrine disruptors screening and testing program, which were authorized by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 and the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996.

The protocols will help EPA identify areas in which technologies can be applied to reduce and/or prevent human and environmental exposure to endocrine disruptor chemicals.

In addition, EPA improved methods for quantifying mercury emissions from manmade sources.

In FY 2002 the Agency produced a report(http://www.epa.gov/appcdwww/aptb/EPA-600- R-01-109corrected.pdfcdwww/, appendix: http://www.epa.gov/appcdwww/aptb/EPA-600-R-01-109A.pdf) on the parameters that affect both the species of mercury in coal-fired utility boiler flue gas and the performance of promising mercury control technologies.

This report will be used to help plan future research needed to outline, by December 2003, the Maximum Achievable Control Technology Requirements. This work supports EPA’s December 2000 decision to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired electric utility steam- generating plants.

Releasing about 43 tons of mercury each year, coal-fired power plants are the largest source of human-caused mercury emissions in the United States. EPA has found that there are cost-effective ways of controlling mercury emissions from power plants.

Technologies available today and technologies expected to be available in the near future can eliminate most of the mercury from utilities at a cost far lower than 1 percent of utility industry revenues.

In the area of pollution prevention research, EPA developed improved pollution prevention tools, including (1) computer software that can estimate the potential environmental impact of chemical process designs, (2) a pest resistance management framework to delay or prevent the emergence of resistance in target insects to the toxins in transgenic crops, and (3) software to evaluate the inhalation impacts of metal finishing facilities on workers and nearby residents.

Industry and state and local decision makers can use these tools to evaluate pollution levels, impacts, and costs of product, process, or system redesigns that will in turn inform decisions that better protect human health and the environment.

In addition, EPA’s Environmental Technology Verification program completed 20 stakeholder-approved and peer-reviewed testing protocols for commercially ready environmental technologies in 6 categories (environmental monitoring, air pollution control, drinking water treatment, greenhouse gas reduction, pollution prevention, and water quality protection).

EPA will use the protocols to objectively evaluate a wide variety of environmental technologies so that purchasers and permitters will have an independent and credible assessment of the technologies they are buying or permitting.

EPA is also developing outcome-oriented goals and performance measures in these areas.

About the EPA’s FY 2002 Annual Report

EPA’s FY 2002 Annual Report provides the Agency’s 4th program performance report as required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

This Report presents a comprehensive assessment of the Agency’s annual performance toward the strategic goals and objectives in the Agency’s September 2000 Strategic Plan. The Overview and Performance Results sections focus on environmental accomplishments and benefits to the public resulting from implementation of Agency programs.

The Report also meets reporting requirements for the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act, the Inspector General Act Amendments, the Government Management Reform Act, and the Chief Financial Officers Act.

Section III discusses Agency progress in addressing management challenges and audit issues, and Section IV presents EPA’s FY 2002 Annual Financial Statements.

The Agency’s FY 2002 Annual Report will be available at the end of February through EPA’s National Service Center for Environmental Publication (NSCEP) at 1-800-490-9198 or by ordering online at http://www.epa.gov/ncepihom.

You are invited to submit comments on EPA’s FY 2002 Annual Report via electronic mail to 2002AR.OCFO@epa.gov or write to:

Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of Planning, Analysis, and Accountability (2721A)
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

If you prefer to fax your comments, please send them to (202) 564-1808 marked “Attention: EPA FY 2002 Annual Report.”

More information: http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/finstatement/2002ar/2002ar.htm

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