Winter 2017

Opening new opportunities for collaboration, sharing of resources

Photo: Scott Becker (left) and Dr. Tom Burke at the signing

Scott Becker and Dr. Tom Burke sign APHL-EPA MOU

APHL and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have forged a new partnership to address environmental public health issues more strategically. In January, EPA Office of Research and Development Deputy Assistant Administrator Dr. Tom Burke and APHL Executive Director Scott Becker signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate cooperation between the two organizations.

The MOU builds upon APHL's longstanding relationship with EPA under a cooperative agreement with the agency's Water Security Division. This division oversees the Water Laboratory Alliance, a network that assists laboratories and utilities to respond to water contamination events.

With the MOU in place, APHL and EPA will begin to define goals, prioritize activities and develop an implementation plan for the partnership. Prospective activities range from fundamental and applied research to application development, emergency response and use of laboratory data in environmental health decision-making. Projects could include design of sensors and technology, development of new analytical methods, creation of communication tools and collaboration with citizen science programs.

The commonalities between the partners bode well for the success of the new enterprise. Both oversee a large laboratory system that furnishes data to support decisions affecting public health and the environment. What's more, laboratories in both systems monitor and measure the same matrices – air, water and soil – and both conduct research to protect public health and the environment.

Each partner can benefit from the other's expertise. EPA brings knowledge of environmental conditions and related health exposures, connections with the environmental management community, and experience with information dissemination, innovation and risk management. APHL, in turn, offers expertise in laboratory science, emergency response, workforce and technology development, and training. The association also brings relationships with the public health and environmental protection communities and their respective laboratory systems.

Suggestions Welcome

Please contact Sarah Wright with suggestions for goals or activities to be implemented through the partnership. To learn more about this APHL-EPA collaboration, read the blog posts from Dr. Burke and APHL and watch a discussion between Dr. Burke and Scott Becker on the significance of this MOU.