EPA.gov: government websites you should know about

EPA sealThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a political agency, and so I suspect you probably approve or disapprove of its policies depending on what you think of whatever administration happens to be in power.

But regardless of your politics, its website contains a great deal of useful, practical, and non-controversial information.

Here are the four main menus in www.epa.gov’s header and their contents:

LEARN THE ISSUES

  • Air
  • Chemicals and toxics
  • Climate change
  • Emergencies
  • Green living
  • Health and safety
  • Land and cleanup
  • Pesticides
  • Waste
  • Water

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

  • Air [i.e. Air Science—not the same selection of links as above]
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystems
  • Health
  • Land, waste, and cleanup
  • Pesticides
  • Substances and toxics
  • Sustainable practices
  • Water

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LAWS & REGULATIONS

  • By sector
  • By topic
  • Compliance
  • Enforcement
  • Laws and executive orders
  • Policy and guidance
  • Regulations

ABOUT EPA [largely a directory of administration, offices, research centers, etc.]

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 Sample menu search

The header of epa.gov also includes an A-Z index. This index, the header menus, and a simple search box all lead to articles about very specific topics. Suppose, for example, you want to know more about indoor air quality. You can find a link to that article from the item in the first menu above, through the index, or with the search box.

That article also links to the various reasons why you might be concerned about indoor air quality in the first place, including radon, mold, secondhand smoke, wood smoke, and asthma triggers. There are separate articles for indoor air quality in homes, large buildings, and schools.

The home page has plenty of other links, which ultimately lead to the same articles. The site is well designed and user-friendly that way. You visit the site with a particular concern and can navigate to the specific information that addresses your concern by multiple paths.

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Local information

There is one possible problem with those articles. Whether you live in Maine, Texas, or Alaska, you will find the same article about indoor air quality or anything else you search. As specific as they may be,  these Environmental Protection Agency articles might not answer your local concerns.

So near the bottom of the home page, you can enter your ZIP code for strictly local information. That search will yield local maps, local air and water quality, energy statistics and usage usage, health concerns, and more.

This part of the EPA site is also interactive. If you know of good local environmental news, you can give it a shoutout, which the agency will post for subsequent visitors.

Take a look at the menu items again. Perhaps not every issue touches you immediately, but some do. Some touch you in your home, your work place, your children’s schools, where you shop, where you go for recreation.  If you seriously need information on any environmental issue, you need to consult multiple sources; http://www.epa.gov ought to be one of them.

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