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Definition of «Environmental Protection Agency»

Environmental Protection Agency: The US government agency founded to "protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment--air, water, and land--upon which life depends." The Environmental Protection Agency is known as the EPA.

The EPA's stated purpose is to ensure that::

  • All Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.
  • National efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.
  • Federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively.
  • Environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy.
  • All parts of society--communities, individuals, business, state and local governments, tribal governments--have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks.
  • Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive.
  • The United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

The EPA's stated national goals for protecting public health and the environment include the following:

CLEAN AIR: The air in every American community will be safe and healthy to breathe. In particular, children, the elderly, and people with respiratory ailments will be protected from health risks of breathing polluted air. Reducing air pollution will also protect the environment, resulting in many benefits, such as restoring life in damaged ecosystems and reducing health risks to those whose subsistence depends directly on those ecosystems.

CLEAN AND SAFE WATER: All Americans will have drinking water that is clean and safe to drink. Effective protection of America's rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, and coastal and ocean waters will sustain fish, plants, and wildlife, as well as recreational, subsistence, and economic activities. Watersheds and their aquatic ecosystems will be restored and protected to improve public health, enhance water quality, reduce flooding, and provide habitat for wildlife.

SAFE FOOD: The foods Americans eat will be free from unsafe pesticide residues. Children especially will be protected from the health threats posed by pesticide residues, because they are among the most vulnerable groups in our society.

PREVENTING POLLUTION AND REDUCING RISK IN COMMUNITIES, HOMES, WORKPLACES AND ECOSYSTEMS: Pollution prevention and risk management strategies aimed at cost-effectively eliminating, reducing, or minimizing emissions and contamination will result in cleaner and safer environments in which all Americans can reside, work, and enjoy life. EPA will safeguard ecosystems and promote the health of natural communities that are integral to the quality of life in this nation.

BETTER WASTE MANAGEMENT, RESTORATION OF CONTAMINATED WASTE SITES, AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE: America's wastes will be stored, treated, and disposed of in ways that prevent harm to people and to the natural environment. EPA will work to clean up previously polluted sites, restoring them to uses appropriate for surrounding communities, and respond to and prevent waste-related or industrial accidents.

REDUCTION OF GLOBAL AND CROSS-BORDER ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS: The United States will lead other nations in successful, multilateral efforts to reduce significant risks to human health and ecosystems from climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and other hazards of international concern.

EXPANSION OF AMERICANS' RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR ENVIRONMENT: Easy access to a wealth of information about the state of their local environment will expand citizen involvement and give people tools to protect their families and their communities as they see fit. Increased information exchange between scientists, public health officials, businesses, citizens, and all levels of government will foster greater knowledge about the environment and what can be done to protect it.

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