Summer USEPA Alerts

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Summer USEPA Alerts

Skin Cancer Remains the Most Common Cancer in US, Americans Urged to Take Action

USEPA, CDC, FDA, National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention provide sun safety tips for ‘Don’t Fry Day’: May 24th

The USEPA, joined by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is recognizing the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day”, to encourage Americans to take a few simple steps to protect their health and prevent skin cancer throughout the summer.

“While we’re making progress toward restoring the Earth’s ozone layer, Americans need to take steps now for extra protection from harmful UV rays and skin cancer,” said Janet McCabe, deputy assistant administrator for USEPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Americans can stay safe under the sun and enjoy the outdoors by taking simple steps such as using sunscreen and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.”

“If current trends continue, one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime, and many of these skin cancers could be prevented by reducing UV exposure from the sun and indoor tanning devices,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Of particular concern is the increase we are seeing in rates of melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer. In the United States, melanoma is one of the most common cancers among people ages 15 to 29 years.”

“Spending time in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. Everyone can get sunburned and suffer harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation from time spent outdoors,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Consumers can protect themselves by choosing a sunscreen that is right for them, wearing protective clothing and limiting time in the sun.”

To make it easier for people to choose products that effectively reduce the health risks of UV overexposure, the FDA has issued new labeling rules for sunscreen products. These include:

  • Sunscreens proven to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can be labeled “Broad Spectrum.”  Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to the sun’s damaging effects.
  • Sunscreen products that meet the criteria for being called “Broad Spectrum” and have a Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed with other sun protection measures.
  • Any product that is not “Broad Spectrum,” or has an SPF below 15, must have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
  • New water resistance claims on the front label must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.

In addition to using Broad Spectrum sunscreen, here are some tips to help enjoy the outdoors safely this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer:

  • Seek shade, not sun: Seek the shade when the sun’s rays are strongest; avoid sunburns, intentional tanning, and use of tanning beds; use extra caution near reflective surfaces like water and sand.
  • Wear protective clothing: Wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Check the UV Index: USEPA and the National Weather Service offer the UV Index–an hourly forecast of UV radiation that allows Americans to plan outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun. Download USEPA’s free UV Index application.

Nations across the globe have made steady progress toward restoring the Earth’s protective ozone layer through the groundbreaking environmental treaty called the Montreal Protocol. Signed by 197 countries, including the U.S. government, the Protocol is successfully working to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Scientists predict that the ozone layer will recover later this century.

According to the CDC, the states with the highest melanoma death rates include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia. Americans are encouraged to learn more about skin cancer in their states by visiting this website.  Visit these websites for more on:


USEPA Begins Summer Monitoring to Protect Area Beaches, Coastal Waters and New York/New Jersey Harbor

With the beginning of the beach season, the USEPA is beginning its beach and harbor protection program to safeguard beaches and bays in New Jersey and New York and protect the health of the people who enjoy them. This year’s program will include helicopter surveillance for floating debris, water quality sampling and grants to support state beach protection programs. The summer monitoring program kicked off on Tuesday, May 21 with helicopter flights searching for floating debris in the New York/New Jersey Harbor.

“The [US]EPA works diligently every summer to make sure beachgoers can enjoy the water without worry,” said USEPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “With an expected increase in floating debris on our shores as a result of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, our efforts are even more important than ever.”

Working together with other federal, state and local agencies, the USEPA’s cooperative program operates seven days a week. This comprehensive, science-based beach and coastal water program has many components, including shellfish bed water quality monitoring, and grants to states to help with their beach monitoring and public notification programs. As they do every summer, USEPA scientists will fly over the New York/New Jersey Harbor in a helicopter, the Coastal Crusader, searching for floating debris. The helicopter will also be used to collect water samples near shellfish beds and along the New Jersey coast for phytoplankton analysis, and take samples for bacteriological analysis around Long Island to support New Jersey’s and New York’s shellfish protection programs.

Highlights of the USEPA’s Coastal Water and Beach Program:

Floatables Surveillance Overflights

From late May to early September, the Coastal Crusader helicopter will fly over the New York/New Jersey Harbor six days a week. The USEPA conducts these flights to identify floating debris slicks and to coordinate cleanups with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the marine environment and prevent wash-ups on the beaches of New Jersey and New York. The USEPA also reports any oil slicks to the U.S. Coast Guard for cleanup.

Shellfish Bed Monitoring Program

The USEPA helicopter will be used to collect water quality samples to assist the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with monitoring the health of their shellfish beds. To support this program, samples will be collected six times this summer along the New Jersey coast in Raritan Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, Barnegat Bay, Great Bay and Delaware Bay. Samples will also be collected to assess fecal contamination at 26 stations six times this summer along the Long Island coast, from Rockaway to Shinnecock Inlet.

Dissolved Oxygen Monitoring

New Jersey coastal waters are listed as impaired due to low dissolved oxygen concentrations, which can have a very damaging effect on fish and shellfish. Sampling for dissolved oxygen is complicated as levels vary over time and across a large area. This summer, an automated underwater vehicle will be used for the second year in a row to measure dissolved oxygen concentrations in New Jersey coastal waters. It is scheduled to be launched three times in mid-July, August and September, with each mission lasting 2-3 weeks. The vehicle, commonly known as a glider, has the advantage of collecting many more measurements over a larger area. Data collected by the glider will be used to create a three-dimensional picture of dissolved oxygen in New Jersey’s coastal ocean.

Beach Monitoring and Notification Program

The state of New Jersey and local health departments have received over $4 million dollars to date in USEPA grants through the federal BEACH Act; New York State has received $4.8 million. New Jersey received an additional $274,000 this year and New York received an additional $341,000.

For information on the USEPA’s Beach Advisory and Closing Online Notification (BEACON) database, which provides the public with state-reported beach monitoring and notification data, visit: http://watersgeo.epa.gov/beacon2/about.html.

For more information on the USEPA’s diverse coastal water activities, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/water/oceans.

Follow USEPA Region 2 on Twitter and visit their Facebook page.

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