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Environmental Factor, April 2012

Spring cleaning day for the NIEHS lake

By Eddy Ball

Patrick McCaw and Chris Long pick up litter at NIEHS campus

Patrick McCaw, left, works with Long, as they look for litter. Long dressed appropriately for the task and brought along the right tool for the job. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Although it wasn’t officially spring yet when NIEHS employees picked up litter in and around the campus lake March 13, it was a great time for a lakeshore clean sweep.

The weather, with clear skies and temperature approaching 70 degrees, was just right for the effort, which was organized by the NIEHS Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee (EAAC). And, as the EAAC announcement noted, it was still winter, which meant inactive reptiles and less vegetation to hide the trash.

Over the winter, winds had blown the occasional piece of waste from picnic tables, trashcans, and careless hikers into the undergrowth and water, so a small group of volunteers donned outdoor clothing and took trash bags down to the shore to get the job done. The EAAC provided some gloves and rubber boots for the volunteers.

Joining NIEHS Health and Safety Branch (HSB) Environmental Specialist Bill Steinmetz were HSB Hazardous Waste Specialist Carranza Smith, biologist Bill Willis, and Deputy Associate Director of Management Chris Long. Photographer Steve McCaw and son Patrick stopped by to take a few photos and help out with policing the entire shoreline, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) side.

By the time they finished, the grounds were pristine. It’s a tribute to the environmental awareness of NIEHS and EPA employees that the volunteer lake stewards collected less than one large trash bag of plastic bottles, pieces of Styrofoam, fishing bobbers, and a golf ball, which Steinmetz said the volunteers kept for future reuse.


Steve McCaw

Most of the lake’s residents and visitors seemed to have little interest in what was happening on shore. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


A view of NIEHS headquarters

Part of the reward for a job well done was the chance most people don’t have every day — to get a perspective of NIEHS headquarters from the shoreline on the other side of the lake. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


Bill Willis and Bill Steinmetz

As Willis looked on, Steinmetz took advantage of rubber boots and used a long branch to extend his reach farther into the water. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


A dam built on the NIEHS's lake.

Others, including the ones who built this dam, kept a low profile. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)




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