Faces of EPA: Jana Compton


(music rises) Jana Compton: When I was a kid
I really loved to be outside and play in the creek in my backyard. My favorite thing to do was go with my friends
and catch crawdads and catch salamander and bring them in my house to keep them as pets. I knew I loved nature but I was also really
interested in doing something that would make a difference. That would help people. That would help make the world a better place. And I found myself really drawn to environmental
chemistry. I’m Jana Compton. I’m a research ecologist
with the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m based at the Western Ecology Division
in Corvallis, Oregon. I’ve been with EPA for 17 years. I work on water quality related issues and
most of my research focuses on nutrient pollution and the impacts of nutrients in the environment. That would include things like fertilizer
inputs from agriculture, biological-notion fixation, point sources from the end of a pipe
or from the top of a factory smoke stack. And trying to look at the relative importance
of those different sources of nutrients in the environment. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about nutrient
pollution because you really have to visual something that you can’t see. We apply nutrients to the land to get crops
to grow better and to have optimal crop growth. But some of those nutrients move out of the
intended use. So, in farm systems they might leech below
the rooting zone and end up in ground water or move into surface waters where they can
cause problems. There is also the release of particulates
that move into the atmosphere and can cause human health problems, and so those all parts
of the nitrogen cycle which I study, that we try and quantify so we know where the nitrogens
coming from and then what the impact are. So, really it is an important part of what
EPA does is try and understand the role of nutrients and help come up with strategies
for reducing the impacts of the release of nutrients to the environment. Our goal is to share that information with
our farmers so they can maybe make adjustments. So that we are not having that much nitrate
going into the ground water. There is a great deal of knowledge and concern
about this topic here so that makes it really nice to be able to have those conversations. Cause a lot of those concerns that we work
on, a lot of the impacts that we think of, the drinking water issues, the air particulate
issues, are very much related to human health and so I think those are things that are very
important for EPA to keep a hold of, to pay attention to , to be monitoring, to be measuring. We really are trying to help people. (music ends)

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