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Your Environment. Your Health.

Justification Narrative

FY 2010 Superfund Budget

Authorizing Legislation: Section 311(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended, and Section 126(g) of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986.

Budget Authority

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FY 2008 Appropriation  FY 2009 Omnibus FY 2009 Recovery Act FY 2010 President's Budget FY 2010 +/-
FY 2009 Omnibus
$77,546,000 $78,074,000 $19,297,000 $79,212,000 $1,138,000

FTEs are included with the regular NIEHS appropriation.

In FY 2009, a total of $19,297,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds were transferred from the Office of the Director. These funds will be used to support scientific research opportunities that help support the goals of the ARRA. The ARRA allows NIH to execute these funds via any NIH funding mechanism. Funds are available until September 30, 2010. These funds are not included in the FY 2009 Omnibus amounts reflected in this document.

Director's Overview

NIEHS’ Superfund Program provides scientific research, through the Superfund Research Program (SRP), and worker training through the Worker Training Program (WTP), to address and prevent diseases caused by environmental contamination. These programs are closing the gap between the application of basic science to real world situations, such as safety and health training, and the need by policy makers and regulators for up-to-date scientific information.

SRP engages interdisciplinary teams of researchers to address challenges posed by environmental contamination including health risks, toxicity, exposure predictions, fate and transport and the need for cost-effective treatments. SRP provides a scientific foundation for important regulatory guidance. A seminal SRP study identified critical periods during a child’s development when exposure to neurotoxicant pesticides causes irreversible harm. Data from this research was incorporated into the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Inspector General Report on pesticide regulation, "Opportunities to Improve Data Quality and Children's Health through the Food Quality Protection Act." In addition, SRP identifies risk factors that make populations sensitive to toxicant-induced disease, creating major opportunities to improve public health through targeted interventions. Recently, SRP researchers found that obese individuals may be highly susceptible to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) toxicity – and that PCB exposure may exacerbate the further progression of obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. These findings indicate that obese individuals may need to severely limit intake of foods containing PCBs, such as game fish.

WTP provides science-based safety and health training to millions of workers who handle or respond to emergencies involving hazardous materials. For WTP, closing the gap means ensuring that safe training is science-based and accountable. This is achieved through the Program's nationally recognized Minimum Criteria for Hazardous Materials and Emergency Response Training. These criteria provide a gold standard for evaluating these training programs for adult education, accuracy, comprehensiveness and program quality control. As a result, interactive, engaging and highly effective training achieves the mission of the WTP.

The Superfund Programs are prospective and continue to work together to identify ways to make a meaningful impact. During a recent joint meeting, SRP and WTP grantees identified “green approaches” as a commonly held goal. Remediation of hazardous materials has always been a "green" issue - one whose successful achievement benefits individuals, communities and the environment. WTP has found that many contaminated former industrial sites (Brownfields), can be reclaimed by following green principles of deconstruction rather than simple demolition. During deconstruction, materials are separated, often reused, and the volume of contaminated materials greatly reduced. Compared to traditional clean-up methods, this new green approach, if safely done, holds the promise of lowering clean-up costs while providing additional opportunities for small businesses. SRP awarded new grants to identify biologically-based methods of remediation, a process known as bioremediation. These projects will focus on harnessing natural systems to convert toxic heavy metals into harmless forms, a process which, compared to more traditional clean-up approaches, is less expensive, requires less energy input and utilizes almost no additional chemicals.

Partnerships with stakeholders and other federal agencies are also key to the Superfund Program’s success. WTP, as part of the National Response Framework, continues to partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide "just in time” training for responding to natural and man-made disasters. To prepare for a possible Avian Flu epidemic, which would require the disposal of potentially millions of birds, WTP partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In collaboration with state and local public health agencies, WTP is developing responses to chemical terrorism. To restore our Brownfields communities, WTP partners with EPA to provide boot strap training to disadvantaged citizens – training that gives the student the foundation for achieving success by his or her own ongoing efforts. WTP provides training in all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Pacific territories through efforts such as these to build a national safety and health culture.

SRP partnerships with other federal agencies bring excellent scientific research to stakeholders and ensure that future initiatives are responsive to the needs of the Program. SRP literally brings scientists to agencies, such as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, as part of a new series whereby SRP researchers spend a day with Agency staff to tackle the translation of research findings into useable policy. SRP also broadcasts web seminars to thousands of environmental remediation practitioners in collaboration with EPA’s Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation. They recently completed a series about bioavailability (biologically active portion of a contaminant) and phytoremediation (plant-based remediation). These new concepts will have an impact on risk regulation and site clean-ups. Coordinating conference and workshop development such as the “International Environmental Nanotechnology Conference: Applications and Implications,” brings critical SRP research findings to an EPA Office of Research and Development-led conference. Another SRP endeavor is the formation of an External Advisory Panel, a committee of individuals associated with federal agencies and research institutions, which convened to target approaches whereby SRP can most effectively impact policy, improve health and prevent diseases associated with hazardous substances.

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Justification of the FY 2010 Budget by Activity Detail

Program Descriptions and Accomplishments

Superfund Research Program (SRP): SRP’s goal is to gain a better understanding of how toxicants affect human health, in order to help environmental managers and risk assessors protect the public from exposures to hazardous substances. SRP also develops cost effective approaches to detect, remove and/or reduce the amount of toxic substances found in the environment. For example, SRP-funded researchers at Brown University have discovered a nanomaterial that can absorb mercury emitted from a broken compact fluorescent lamp (CFL). These investigators found that mercury vapors slowly dissipate upon CFL breakage, which poses a serious health and environmental hazard and negates the energy benefits of CFLs. This led to screening nanomaterials for efficiently stabilizing mercury vapor at ambient temperatures, leading to the creation of a prototype nano-selenium-containing disposal bag, which is currently awaiting federal patenting and manufacturing. This inexpensive, effective remedy alleviates public health concerns associated with direct mercury vapor inhalation and/or subsequent unwanted environmental consequences caused by broken CFLs.

Budget Policy: The FY 2010 budget estimate for SRP is $50.352 million, an increase of $723 thousand, or 1.5 percent over the FY 2009 estimate. Resources will be used to continue the support of high priority and scientifically rigorous multi-project research grants, covering the diverse areas of science needed to solve the complex health and environmental issues associated with the nation’s hazardous waste sites. In addition, support will be continued for individual investigator grants to develop innovative approaches for the remediation of contaminated sediments. In FY 2009 NIEHS initiated a new area of investigation in the development of nanotechnology based tools to understand the mechanisms of bioremediation, which will continue in FY 2010. Support for SBIR grants will continue for the development of innovative technologies for monitoring and remediation of hazardous substances in the environment.

Portrait of a Program: Advancing the Application of Science

FY 2009 Level

$2.642 million

FY 2010 Level

$2.642 million

Change $0.000 million

In FY 2010, SRP grantees are scaling up efforts to meet the real world needs of their partners. For example, one grantee is providing minority communities in Boston with the capacity to elucidate environmental exposures that may acerbate asthma and cardiovascular disease by adapting its sophisticated computer mapping technology into a user friendly format for the community to pinpoint hot-spots of contamination. This enables the community to target areas in need of pollution reduction, while also improving the technical abilities of community residents and youth.

In addition, SRP researchers, in conjunction with a community-based water company and a state health department, are cleaning up a community drinking water system contaminated with MTBE/TBA (methyl tertiary butyl ether/tertiary butyl alcohol). This pilot study, using a remediation technique developed by the grantee, will establish the effectiveness and safety of the technology. If widely implemented, the technology could be used to produce potable drinking water from impaired aquifers at lower cost than conventional technologies.

Recently, SRP researchers of different universities identified a need that they collectively could address -- the unknown consequences of the popular antimicrobial additives triclosan and triclocarban. Under this new initiative investigators are determining the fate of these endocrine disrupting compounds in the environment and the level of exposure in expectant mothers and their babies. This study is timed to provide input into the pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration monograph on these compounds.

Worker Training Program (WTP): WTP trains workers to protect themselves and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation and environmental restoration of contaminated facilities or chemical emergency response. WTP works with a network of experienced worker safety and health experts, trainers and support staff that can be mobilized to protect and assist during times of national crisis. WTP provides model occupational safety and health training for workers who are or may be engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal or containment or chemical emergency response. The following table provides information on WTP’s activities for the period FY 2008 through FY 2010:

Primary Worker Training Awards

  FY2008 Actual   FY2009 Estimate FY2010 Estimate
Amount (in thousands) $25,532 $25,988 $26,393
Institutions 18 18 18
Classes 9,312 9,637 9,867
Workers Reached 152,297 158,797 163,397
Contact Hours 1,709,208 1,735,208 1,753,608

Budget Policy: The FY 2010 budget estimate for WTP is $28.860 million, an increase of $415 thousand, or 1.5 percent over the FY 2009 estimate. WTP will continue to support ongoing occupational safety and health training for workers who are or may be engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal, containment or chemical emergency response. WTP will also fund comprehensive training to disadvantaged urban youth in order to prepare them for employment in the construction and environmental cleanup fields. WTP plans to continue its support of small businesses through its innovative SBIR e-learning for worker safety and health training program. WTP will also continue to pursue pre-deployment strategies and development of training materials on a number of issues of key national response concern.

Portrait of a Program: Serving Spanish-Speaking Workers

FY 2009 Level $0.800 million
FY 2010 Level $0.811 million
Change $0.011 million

Hispanic workers are an at risk population who experience high rates of occupational injury and death. During FY 2010, WTP, while maintaining its core training missions, will undertake a significant expansion of its efforts to serve Spanish-speaking workers engaged in hazardous waste cleanup and emergency response. This program began in August 2006 and reaches thousands of Spanish-speaking workers each year with very good results. Lessons learned about the safe use of hazardous materials enable Hispanic workers to protect themselves at work and to protect their families in their homes and neighborhoods. WTP will augment the delivery of actual training in the field through targeted outreach and support for additional bilingual trainers. Access to many of these multilingual resources will continue to be available through the NIEHS website.

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