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Through its research and development efforts, EPA seeks to identify effective, efficient, and sustainable solutions that are science-based and designed to meet current needs while minimizing potential human health and environmental risks. “There’s a 40-year history at EPA of deeply understanding the nature of the environmental problems we face,” explains Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) and EPA’s science advisor, “whether it is the contaminants in our water, the pollution in our air, or the toxicity of chemicals. We are the best in the world in understanding the nature of these problems.”
Anastas leads the agency’s efforts in this area, overseeing a wide range of research programs from basic studies on the toxicity of chemicals to technology development for purifying water. ORD began with the inception of EPA, ensuring that science was at the table on every question and issue the agency addressed. “It was the recognition,” Anastas admits, “that everything that we do needs to be science-based. We’re looking at how we get the right scientific foundation for all of the decisions we make and the actions we take.” He meets this critical agency mission with a budget of about $580 million and a staff of 2000.