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US ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on July 9, 1970, as a separate independent agency of the executive branch of the federal government because of the public demand for cleaner water, air, and land. On December 2, 1970, the EPA, with the help of the US Public Health Service, was formed from 15 components which were parts of five other agencies. The charge of the US EPA was the improvement and preservation of the quality of the environment at the national and global level while protecting both human health and the natural resources which all people depended upon. It was a simple step to move from the EPA charge to the concept of sustainability, which in fact encompassed virtually everything related to environmental health and environmental protection.

SUSTAINABILITY

The US EPA stated, “Sustainability is based on a simple principle: everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony which permits fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”

In the rest of the world, members of the United Nations in preparation for the Stockholm, Sweden Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972, met in a preparatory conference in 1971 and expressed deep concern about the environmental consequences of the increasing development of the Earth and the associated rise in pollutants, while simultaneously recognizing the need for economic development in poorer parts of the world. This helped crystallize the concept of environmental sustainability. Out of the Stockholm conference grew the United Nations Environmental Programme, which was founded in 1972.

The modern concept of environmental sustainability is science-based and is a combination of the use of risk assessment and risk communication; prevention, minimization, and control of pollutants; preservation and proper use of resources; and avoidance of damage to air, water, land, food, ecosystems, and people. This helps prevent disease and injury while protecting the natural environment. Environmental sustainability is accomplished by use of Best Practices in all inter-related environmental areas discussed in this book.

 
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