proaches, stakeholder involvement, communication, policy, and integration for systems thinking are also vital.
In the present chapter, the committee has recommended ways in which the agency can integrate systems thinking techniques into a 21st century framework for science to inform decisions. For EPA to stay at the leading edge, it will need to produce science that is anticipatory, innovative, long-term, and collaborative; to evaluate and apply new tools for data acquisition, modeling, and knowledge development; to continue to develop and apply new systems-level tools and expertise; and to develop tools and methods to synthesize science, characterize uncertainties, and integrate, track, and assess the outcomes of actions. If effectively implemented, such a framework would help to break the silos of the agency and promote collaboration among research related to different media, time scales, and disciplines. In supporting environmental science and engineering for the 21st century, EPA will need to continue to evolve from an agency that focuses on using science to characterize risks so that it can respond to problems to an agency that applies science holistically to characterize both problems and solutions at the earliest point possible.
Finding: Environmental problems are increasingly interconnected. EPA can no longer address just one environmental hazard at a time without considering how that problem interacts with, is influenced by, and influences other aspects of the environment.
Recommendation: The committee recommends that EPA substantially enhance the integration of systems thinking into its work and enhance its capacity to apply systems thinking to all aspects of how it approaches complex decisions.
The following paragraphs provide examples of some of strategies that EPA could use to help it set its own priorities and to enhance its use of systems thinking.
Even if formal quantitative LCA is not feasible, increased use of a life-cycle perspective would help EPA to assess activities, regulatory strategies, and associated environmental consequences. Placing more of a focus on life-cycle thinking would likely include increasing EPA’s investment in the development of LCA tools that reflect the most recent knowledge in LCA and risk assessment (both human health and ecologic). In addition, it may be more cost effective for EPA to provide incentives and resources to increase collaborations between LCA practitioners in the agency and those working on related analytic tools (such as risk assessment, exposure modeling, alternatives assessment, and green chemistry). EPA has some internal capacity for LCA, but could benefit from a more systematic use of such an assessment across the agency’s mission.
Continuing to invest intramural and extramural resources in cumulative risk assessment and the underlying multistressor data, including coordinated bench science and community-based components, would give EPA a broader