EPA and USDA Announce First-Ever Microbial Risk Assessment Guidance / Guideline will help better determine health risks from food and waterborne pathogens
Contact Information: Latisha Petteway (News Media Only), firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-564-3191, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced the first-ever Microbial Risk Assessment (MRA) Guideline. This new MRA Guideline lays out an overarching approach to conducting meaningful assessments of the risks to Americans posed by pathogens in food and water. Pathogens ingested in food and water can result in acute gastrointestinal-related illnesses; some gastrointestinal-related illnesses can result in long-term and permanent health effects as well as premature death. This new guideline will improve the quality of the data collected by public health scientists charged with protecting Americans from pathogen-related risks in food and water.
“This guidance contributes significantly to improving the quality and consistency of microbial risk assessments, and provides greater transparency to stakeholders and other interested parties in how federal agencies approach and conduct their microbial risk assessments,” said Dr. Glenn Paulson, EPA Science Advisor. “Based on the success of this project, we are seeking further opportunities to combine our technical expertise in our continuing efforts to protect the Americans’ health.”
“The microbial risk assessment guideline developed by FSIS, the EPA and our other public health partners will help protect consumers by allowing us to uniformly assess and reduce health risks from pathogens,” USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. “We’re proud to have worked with our partners on this guideline that will provide our risk assessors with a transparent and scientifically rigorous document to use in protecting public health.”
Formal risk assessments for food, water, and environmentally-relevant chemicals have been undertaken for decades. However, an overarching microbial risk assessment guideline has not been available until now. The guideline announced today meets this need by providing comprehensive, yet specific and descriptive information for developing assessments of microbial risk in food and water.
More information on the guideline: http://www.epa.gov/raf/microbial.htm
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
EPA, HUD, and DOT Partner with States to Meet Growth, Development Goals
Contact Information: Latisha Petteway (News Media Only), email@example.com, 202-564-3191, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced today they will partner with the Governors’ Institute on Community Design to provide enhanced technical guidance to governors seeking to tackle housing, transportation, environmental, and health challenges facing their states.
The partnership, a part of the Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, is designed for states seeking to spur economic growth and development while addressing these issues.
“The Governors’ Institute on Community Design helps states address local challenges in ways that are cheaper and more effective, making it an important part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to communities,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “The EPA has been proud to be a part of the program since it was created in 2005. We look forward to working with our colleagues at HUD and DOT as well as Smart Growth America to continue supporting the Institute's workshops, and help states achieve their economic, environmental and public health goals."
“With this effort, our three agencies are providing the cutting-edge technical assistance states need to create healthier, more livable communities,” says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Just as importantly, we are demonstrating once again that the key to more affordable housing, transportation and access to jobs is providing partnership at the federal level that supports innovation at the local level.”
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood adds, “By working with HUD and EPA over the last three years, we’ve made significant progress to help communities across the country become safer, healthier, and better connected.” “We’re excited to expand our collaboration by working directly with the Governors’ Institute to increase state transportation options.”
Established in 2005, the Governors’ Institute brings together leading practitioners and academics in government, design, development, and regional economics to help governors and their state executive teams make informed choices about growth and development in their states. At the request of a governor, the Governors’ Institute conducts a workshop that pairs the governor and his or her cabinet with planning experts to identify strategies that spur development and help communities achieve their economic, public health, and environmental goals. Governors also receive follow-up assistance on technical issues.
The Governors’ Institute is coordinated by Smart Growth America and is led by former Governor Parris N. Glendening of Maryland and former Governor Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey. Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania; Chet Culver, former governor of Iowa; and James Lee Witt, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, serve as advisors. In June, EPA awarded Smart Growth America a five-year cooperative agreement to administer the institute. This funding builds upon support provided previously by the National Endowment for the Arts, which brought to the fore issues of community design and art in public places.
The partnership, which celebrated its third anniversary in June, works to provide communities with faster, more streamlined access to federal programs and resources, and works closely with other federal agencies, states, and local governments to ensure that partnership programs use federal resources as efficiently as possible.
More information on the Governors’ Institute: http://www.govinstitute.org
More information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov
EPA Identifies Substitutes for Toxic Flame Retardant Chemical
WASHINGTON - In its quest to identify possible substitutes for a toxic flame retardant chemical known as decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a draft report on alternatives. This comprehensive assessment, developed with public participation under EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program, profiles the environmental and human health hazards on 30 alternatives to decaBDE, which will be phased out of production by December 2013.
DecaBDE is a common flame retardant used in electronics, vehicles, and building materials. It can cause adverse developmental effects, can persist in the environment and can bioaccumulate in people and animals. This technical assessment can help manufacturers identify alternatives to decaBDE. In addition, EPA will continue to work with manufacturers to investigate both chemical and non-chemical alternatives for flame retardants.
“EPA is using all of its tools to reduce the use of hazardous flame retardant chemicals like decaBDE and identify safer, functional substitutes to protect people’s health and the environment,” said Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). “Virtually everyone agrees that EPA needs updated authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to more effectively assess and regulate potentially harmful chemicals like flame retardants. As EPA continues to stress the need for comprehensive legislative reform to TSCA, we are also targeting actions on a broader group of flame retardants to reduce human and environmental risks."
Today’s draft report is the latest in a series of actions the agency is taking to address flame retardants made with bromine. Other actions include:
The alternatives to decaBDE characterized in the report are already on the market and will be used increasingly as decaBDE is phased out. The alternatives have differing hazard characteristics and are associated with trade-offs. For example, some alternatives that appear to have a relatively positive human health profile may be more persistent in the environment. Some alternatives appear to be less toxic than decaBDE. Preliminary data suggests that these flame retardants may have a lower potential for bioaccumulation in people and the environment. It is important to understand that these health and environmental profiles are largely based on computer-model generated estimates, and that the models are limited in their ability to predict concern. Laboratory testing and ongoing environmental monitoring is necessary to fully understand the potential for concern associated with these chemicals.
EPA’s Design for the Environment Alternatives Assessment Program helps industries choose safer chemicals and offers a basis for informed decision-making by providing a detailed comparison of the potential public health and environmental impacts of chemical alternatives. Throughout the partnership, stakeholders, including chemical suppliers, product manufacturers, and non-government organizations have provided valuable information to support the development of these draft reports. EPA is seeking stakeholder and public input on this draft report for 60 days.
More information on the DfE Alternatives Assessment Program and the draft report: http://www.epa.gov/dfe
More information on other actions on brominated flame retardants:
Contact for EPA: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / firstname.lastname@example.org
DOJ: Wyn Hornbuckle 202-616-0903 / Wyn.Hornbuckle@usdoj.gov
Hopewell, Va., Company to Pay $175,000 Penalty to Settle
Clean Air Act Violations at Manufacturing Facility
PHILADELPHIA (July 31, 2012) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that Hercules Incorporated has agreed to pay a $175,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of federal environmental laws in the processing of cellulose fiber at its Hopewell, Va., plant.
According to the United States' complaint, Hercules allegedly failed to adequately demonstrate compliance with the national emission standard for hazardous air pollutants for cellulose products manufacturing and violated related regulations on leak detection and repair.
Cellulose fiber is the main raw material used in the manufacturing processes conducted at the facility, located at 1111 Hercules Road. The cellulose is treated with various chemicals, and gaseous and particulate by-products are vented and treated by air pollution control devices. However, leakage of hazardous air pollutants into the environment can occur at different points along the manufacturing process, for example, at valves and vents.
Under a consent decree that was lodged with the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va. on July 2, 2012, Hercules is required to comply with the Clean Air Act standard of "maximum achievable control technology" (MACT) . This standard protects public health and improves air quality by requiring facilities to use state-of-the-art technology for reducing hazardous air pollutants. Hercules will spend approximately $200,000 on the consent decree requirements, resulting in an estimated 150 tons of hazardous air pollutants reduced per year. As part of the settlement, Hercules has agreed to conduct additional testing, update its operating permit to document testing and monitoring activities, and engage in a two-year enhanced leak detection and repair program. The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.
This agreement is part of an EPA national initiative to target and reduce illegal emissions of air toxics and reduce excess emissions for facilities that have a significant impact on air quality and health in residential areas. Industrial and commercial facilities are required to implement leak detection and repair programs to prevent the escape of hazardous air pollutants.
For more information, please go to: http://epa.gov/ttn/atw/cellulose/cellfact.pdf.
EPA Awards $75,000 to the Choctaw Nation
to Support Its Water Quality Program
(DALLAS – July 31, 2012) The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma $75,000 to provide continued support for the tribe’s water pollution control program. The funds will be used to take water samples to assess surface water quality on tribal lands, compile data which may show changes over time and determine if a more thorough watershed management program is needed. Sampling data will determine whether water quality standards are being met, note any changes in the quality or condition of the Choctaw Nation’s water and provide planning tools to improve the function and health of stream ecosystems.
The mission of the EPA is to protect public health and the environment. The EPA supports our nations’ tribes in all aspects of the work needed to improve the water quality of tribal land watersheds. This cooperative spirit supports work to protect water quality that ensures the health of watersheds that cross state and tribal boundaries.
Additional Information on EPA grants is available at http://www.epa.gov/region6/gandf/index.htm
More about activities in EPA Region 6 is available at http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html
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