Webinar: Community and Citizen Science: Making Your Data Count

Dec 15, 2021, 2 pm CST
Register here.

How can community and citizen science contribute to environmental decision-making? Many EPA, state, and tribal environmental programs are increasingly using community and citizen science for environmental monitoring and addressing social and environmental justice concerns. A recent multi-stakeholder workshop explored gaps and needed improvements in data management that will allow for a more efficient flow of data from producers to users. A major focus is on community science projects that involve grassroots activities to address local concerns.

This webinar will showcase community-oriented projects and share ideas from the workshop. Webinar topics will include: How can we design a future that maximizes the use of community and citizen science data? How do we address the barriers that limit data use today? How can EPA serve as a catalyst to build a stronger, more inclusive collaborative network with states, tribes, local government, non-governmental organizations, academia, and other organizations? 

Please attend this webinar to learn about the tools and practices used in these exciting community and citizen science projects and how EPA, states, and tribal governments can better support these efforts. Learn more about community and citizen science on EPA’s website.

Highlighted Projects:

  1. Love My Air Denver – School-based air quality monitoring network that provides real-time air quality data using low-cost technology.
  2. Urban Heat ATL – Community scientists in Atlanta help map temperature profiles that link to climate change, urban greenspace, city planning, and energy burdens.
  3. Eastern Shale Gas Monitoring Program – Trout Unlimited supports community stream surveillance for water quality impacts in PA, VA and WV.
  4. Arizona Water Watch – State program uses a mobile app to accept water data, observations and photographs from volunteers.

Illinois EPA files administrative rules to create statewide groundwater quality standards for PFAS chemicals

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director John J. Kim announced the Agency has submitted amendments to 35 Illinois Administrative Code (Ill. Admin. Code) Part 620 to the Illinois Pollution Control Board (Board). The proposed amendments update toxicity data for various chemicals, update exposure factors, and introduce groundwater quality standards for five Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) chemicals.

The proposed rule includes new groundwater quality standards for five PFAS chemicals:  perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). In addition, the proposal includes groundwater quality standards for nine new chemicals, three new atrazine metabolites, and procedures for selecting toxicity values consistent with current federal guidance among other updates.

PFAS are a group of approximately 5,000 human-made chemicals that are manufactured for their oil and water-resistant properties. Since the 1940s, PFAS have been used in a wide range of consumer products, industrial processes, and in some fire-fighting foams (called aqueous film-forming foam or AFFF). This has resulted in PFAS being released into the air, water and soil.

“This regulatory submittal is the culmination of work by Illinois EPA staff over the past two years in an effort to establish Illinois’ first groundwater standards for PFAS chemicals,” said Director Kim. “These regulations are a significant step to regulating these forever chemicals that will allow Illinois to develop standards to more effectively protect the public and environment against adverse impacts associated with PFAS contamination.”

Groundwater in Illinois is important as drinking water for people and livestock, irrigation, industrial inputs, to sustain wetlands and other habitats, and to maintain flow and water quality in lakes, rivers and streams. Groundwater quality standards help the Illinois EPA to protect current and future uses of groundwater by providing a measure of groundwater’s suitability for 
use and to set limits when remediation is necessary. Monitoring groundwater quality to detect changes in composition can provide an early warning when contaminants threaten water supplies and provide a measure for cleanup effectiveness when required.

Individuals and stakeholders can receive updates on the proposed rulemaking by signing-up for electronic notifications by the Board at https://pcb.illinois.gov/Cases/GetCaseDetailsById?caseId=17099.

EPA releases draft health-based levels for PFAS in drinking water

Read the full story at Products Finishing.

EPA has released stringent health-based levels to serve as guidance for setting drinking water standard for PFOS and PFOA.

The new wedge issue

Read the full story at Politico.

As more businesses, scientists and voters sound the alarm on climate change, a band of Republicans in Congress have come to the table with a message that they’re on board with solutions that are technology-agnostic (think carbon capture), fiscally responsible, and strong on national security. With Democrats, they could help the U.S. deliver on pledges made by President Joe Biden at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow.

But just as the GOP’s clean-energy champions find their footing, the party’s culture warriors, led by climate change skeptic Donald Trump, are prepping for midterm primary battles that could trip up the effort right out of the gate.

The butterflies are back! Annual migration of monarchs shows highest numbers in years

Read the full story from NPR.

Biologists and volunteers across California have already counted more than 100,000 monarchs.

Designing microbe factories for sustainable chemicals

Read the full story from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The science is clear: fossil fuels are harmful to the environment. So why is it so difficult for us to stop using them? Economic reasons are at least part of the answer. From our energy grid to the manufacturing of certain textiles and other products, many parts of our society are built to use fossil fuels. Transitioning away will come at some cost.

But what if we could produce an economically attractive replacement for fossil fuels? New research from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) suggests a way to do just that. Biologists have devised a way to engineer yeast to produce itaconic acid—a valuable commodity chemical—using data integration and supercomputing power as a guide.

Cement is responsible for 8% of global emissions—but it doesn’t have to be

Read the full story at Fast Company.

A new startup, backed by Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is producing the ubiquitous building material in a way that doesn’t release huge amounts of CO2.

Community science is a powerful tool for conservation

Read the full post from the Aspen Institute.

All too often, though, the concerns of scientists or politicians can be out of step with communities on the front lines of conservation and other environmental issues. Even the most well-intentioned efforts can backfire without the appropriate buy-in from a community, and particularly without the appropriate respect for a community’s existing priorities and expertise.

Community science provides a complementary and novel approach to thorny problems at the intersection between the human and natural worlds.

Aspen Institute issues Final Report of the Commission on Information Disorder

Download the document.

Information disorder makes any health crisis more deadly. It slows down our response time on climate change. It undermines democracy. It creates a culture in which racist, ethnic, and gender attacks are seen as solutions, not problems. Today, mis- and disinformation have become a force multiplier for exacerbating our worst problems as a society. Hundreds of millions of people pay the price, every single day, for a world disordered by lies.

In the face of this challenge, we would expect information disorder to be a central concern for anyone in society who bears the title of “leader.” Proactive leadership, rising from within every sector and institution in our society, is our only way out of this crisis. And yet it is sorely missing. The committed and powerful leadership we need is not yet the leadership we have. Accordingly, the biggest question we faced as co-chairs of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder was simply this: How can we help increase the breadth, depth, honesty, and efficacy of leadership for tackling information disorder?

Europe’s butterflies are vanishing as small farms disappear

Read the full story from FERN.

Industrial farms and abandoned ones are both bad for butterflies. Researchers in Spain are trying to combat the trend, one ‘micro-reserve’ at a time.