Carol Rowan West, MSPH, Director
C. Mark Smith, Ph.D., M.S., Deputy Director

Mission

The Office of Research and Standards (ORS) provides scientific expertise to MassDEP in environmental health, toxicology, standard setting, ecological and human health risk assessment, chemistry and statistics. ORS provides information and guidance on public health issues for the agency. Using available information and methods, scientists in ORS formulate exposure guidelines for toxics in air, water, soil and wastes, interpret existing state and federal guidelines and lead agency efforts to assess and reduce key environmental pollutants. ORS also develops new methods and conducts environmental research on priority pollutants.

Air & Water Toxics

Scientists in this group identify or derive standards and toxicity values for chemicals in air and drinking water that support MassDEP programs to ensure that clean air and water are maintained across the Commonwealth. Staff lead new initiatives to better characterize exposures and resultant health risks from chemical exposures (e.g., indoor air evaluation guide, petroleum hydrocarbon exposures, non-target herbicide and insecticide exposures). Research on fish tissue mercury issues is also conducted by this group.

Risk Analysis Section

Risk assessment specialists in this section provide technical support for the Bureau of Waste Site Cleanup, and technical reviews of solid waste landfills and RCRA assessments. Areas of specialization are toxicity assessment, exposure evaluation, and risk characterization for human health risk assessment for waste sites and landfills. Additional areas of expertise include ecological risk assessment at waste sites and landfills, environmental standards, environmental sampling and analysis practices, evaluation of background conditions, statistical analysis, and uncertainty evaluation. Ongoing projects consist of updating human health risk assessment and ecological risk assessment guidance, developing MCP Method 1 Standards for soil and groundwater, developing Shortform spreadsheets to streamline MCP Method 3 (site-specific) human health risk assessment; and evaluating various existing and proposed Waste Site Cleanup policies.

Research & Policy Section

Environmental scientists in this section focus on priority environmental issues and contribute state-of-art scientific expertise to multimedia policy and regulatory decisions across MassDEP. This section played a key role in developing and implementing the Commonwealth's Zero Mercury Strategy and the New England Governors / Eastern Canadian Premiers Mercury Action Plan. These comprehensive initiatives encompass policies, regulations, and source emission inventories. They consist of environmental research and monitoring of measures of success, including mercury levels in fish, and outreach relating to mercury impacts and pollution elimination programs. Other responsibilities of this section include ensuring a sound scientific basis for state and regional environmental programs addressing toxic pollutants, development of policies and guidelines for the safe reuse of wastes that are consistent with protection of health and the environment while encouraging recycling, assessment of soil contaminants and research on environmental pollutants.

See these links for:

Or contact ORS for technical information.