In The Works

Volume 17, Issue 4 - April 2016

In The Works is a monthly newsletter providing Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) news and regulatory updates. The newsletter is provided by Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc. of Plainville, Connecticut.



EPA Provides $8.5 Million to Protect Air Quality In A Changing Climate

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $8.5 million in research funding to 12 universities to protect air quality from the current and future challenges associated with the impacts of climate change.

“The research funded by these grants will improve our understanding of how climate change is impacting our air and our health,” said Thomas A. Burke, EPA science advisor and deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “By examining the relationship between air quality and climate change this research will help better protect human health and the environment.”

Research has shown that climate change can affect air quality and impact public health. With the funding, researchers will expand investigations to understand:

  • Health impacts from smoke due to a rise in wildfires that are increasing as a result of climate change;
  • Atmospheric changes in air pollution chemistry that are occurring due to climate change;
  • Potential consequences of increased levels of dust from particle pollution on human health and visibility;
  • Drought and land-use changes in the western U.S. that may impact the incidence of dust storms; and
  • Impacts to air quality from increased nitrogen-based fertilizer use.

The grants, funded through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, are being awarded to the following institutions:

  • University of California, Davis, Davis, Calif. for Optimal Energy Portfolios to Sustain Economic Advantage, Achieve GHG Targets and Minimize PM2.5.
  • University of California, Irvine, Irvine, Calif. for Effects of Ammonia on Secondary Organic Aerosol Formation in a Changing Climate.
  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Boulder, Colo. for Rethinking the Formation of Secondary Organic Aerosols (SOA) under Changing Climate by Incorporating Mechanistic and Field Constraints.
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo. for Planning for an Unknown Future: Incorporating Meteorological Uncertainty into Predictions of the Impact of Fires and Dust on Particulate Matter.
  • Columbia University, New York, N.Y. for Quantifying Risks from Changing U.S. PM2.5 Distributions Due to Climate Variability and Warming with Large Multi-model Ensembles and High-Resolution Downscaling.
  • Emory University, Atlanta, Ga. for Wildfires in the Rocky Mountains Region: Current and Future Impacts on PM2.5, Health and Policy.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga. for Integrated Analysis of Land Use Based Policies for Improving Air and Water Quality: A Focus on Agricultural Reactive Nitrogen and Wildland Fire Emissions as Climate, Land Use and Anthropogenic Emissions Change.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga. for The Effect of Ammonia on Organic Aerosols in a Changing Climate.
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. for Effects of Changes in Climate and Land Use on U.S. Dust and Wildfire Particulate Matter.
  • University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Md. for Particulate Matter Prediction and Source Attribution for U.S. Air Quality Management in a Changing World.
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M. for Evaluating the Timeline of Particulate Matter Exposure from Urban Transportation and Land-Use Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies Using a Novel Modeling Framework.
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. for Ensemble Analysis of Global Change Projections for U.S. Air Quality Using a Novel Combination of Lagrangian and Gridded Air Quality Models.
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo. for Interplay Between Black and Brown Carbon from Biomass Burning and Climate.

To learn more about these awards, visit:

To learn more about EPA’s air research, visit:



NCI Bladder Cancer Study Underscores NHDES Recommendation for Private Well Testing

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) released on May 3, 2016 the results of a study on possible links between bladder cancer and drinking water from private wells. To explore possible reasons for the excess incidence of bladder cancer in northern New England, NCI conducted a large study in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The team of researchers, including New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, examined the role of known and suspected bladder cancer risk factors, with a focus on private well water consumption and arsenic levels in drinking water.

The study’s findings support an association between exposure to low-to-moderate levels of arsenic in drinking water and bladder cancer risk in Northern New England.

In 2014 a report prepared by Dartmouth College for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and NHDHHS found that hundreds of cases of cancer of the lung, bladder, or skin could be avoided in New Hampshire by convincing private well users to test and treat their water to remove naturally occurring arsenic.

NHDES recommends that all private well users (1) have their water tested at an accredited laboratory, (2) use the "Be Well Informed" website to interpret their test results, and (3) then consult water treatment professionals to determine appropriate options for water treatment.

For information about the NCI study, please contact Dr. Debra Silverman, chief of the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch, NCO, and senior author on the study, through the NCI Press Office: (301) 496-6641,



Baker-Polito Administration to File Legislation Seeking Water Protection Delegation. Massachusetts Proposal Ensures State Oversight of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems Program

With a commitment to continue strong protection of the waters of the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration will file An Act to Enable the Commonwealth’s Administration of the Massachusetts Pollutant Discharge Elimination System which supports the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) efforts to join 46 other states in administering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for federal water quality protection and announced a budget commitment of $4.7 million annually for staff, programming and up-to-date monitoring and analysis of water quality data.

“As a state that has a proud history of working to protect and improve water quality, this legislation will ensure that Massachusetts has an active, hands-on role in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am confident that in joining 46 other states, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will implement a strong, science-based program to protect our natural resources.”

Under the federal Clean Water Act, the EPA administers numerous water quality programs across the United States, including efforts like NPDES which regulates public and private discharges of wastewater and stormwater. As states have the option of applying to the EPA for authorization to administer the program at the state level, subject to federal oversight, the legislation to be filed by the Baker-Polito Administration will make changes to the Commonwealth’s Clean Waters Act, which is needed for MassDEP to make an application to the EPA.

Massachusetts, through MassDEP, has a decades-long history of effectively and successfully administering other federal environmental programs in areas of drinking water, hazardous waste, and clean air, as well as other state water programs such as Title 5, wetlands, and water management. In seeking authorization from EPA to administer the NPDES program, MassDEP will continue to promote the use of science-based water monitoring information during permitting decisions and will provide ongoing effective technical assistance to permittees. Furthermore, adding the NPDES program to MassDEP’s portfolio will promote an integrated process in which a single agency can work with cities and towns across the Commonwealth to the protect Massachusetts’ water quality as well, if not better, that the EPA while minimizing the number of permit appeals and legal challenges.

MassDEP will also embrace the concept of integrated planning and will work closely with local partners to establish a program that takes a holistic view of clean water requirements and implementation schedules.

“We are looking forward to working with cities, towns, advocates and all partners who are working on water quality issues,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Our proposal includes an important commitment to science, to ensure work related to water quality stays up to date and that we are in close contact with those who are working on these issues.”

“This is very good news for Massachusetts, because MassDEP has a well-deserved reputation as both a tough and fair enforcement agency,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Because MassDEP works with cities and towns every day, we are confident that this integrated enforcement approach will deliver stronger results for the environment with less bureaucracy, and will provide greater responsiveness to all communities and stakeholders.”

The legislation will be part of a submittal made by MassDEP to EPA’s New England Regional Office in Boston. As part of its application, MassDEP will be required to demonstrate that it has developed an effective plan for managing the NPDES program, that its legal authorities are sufficient to meet federal requirements and that a plan for funding is in place. While the formal submission cannot be made until the Baker-Polito Administration’s proposal receives legislative approval, MassDEP is continuing to consult with EPA on delegation requirements and will develop other elements of the plan for submittal.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.