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EPA Presents Awards for Work on Improving Air Quality in New Jersey

Release Date: 03/25/2003
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(#03022) New York, NY - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected a long-time New Jersey environmental official and a regional scholarship program to receive its annual Clean Air Excellence Awards. EPA established these awards to recognize outstanding, innovative efforts to achieve cleaner air. The local award winners are John Elston, formerly of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the Air Pollution Education and Research Scholarship Program of the Mid-Atlantic States Section of the Air and Waste Management Association.

"From Kentucky to Colorado, and across the nation, these award winners are using innovative approaches to help make our nation's air cleaner," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "I am proud to honor these pioneering individuals and organizations for using creativeideas, showing once again, that government and industry working together can achieve a healthy environment without sacrificing economic growth. The winners of the Clean Air Excellence Awards are real-life examples of how one person -- or one organization -- taking steps to reduce pollution can make our air cleaner."

Winners are chosen in several categories, including clean air technology, community development, education, regulatory innovations, transportation efficiency, and lifetime achievement. The awards are dedicated to the memory of Thomas W. Zosel, an internationally recognized authority on clean air, pollution prevention and other environmental issues, and an original member of EPA's Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

John C. Elston, who recently retired as the Administrator of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Air Quality Management, received the Thomas W. Zosel Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Elston worked to reduce air pollution in New Jersey formore than 30 years; today it meets most federal air standards.

To bring about significant reductions in smog, one of the state's most difficult air pollution problems, Mr. Elston designed the country's first vehicle emission inspection and maintenance program, which ensures that the emission controls on the state's vehicles work properly to control pollution. He also was an important contributor to the state's planning for future air pollution reductions.

The Mid-Atlantic States Section of the Air and Waste Management Association was given a Clean Air Excellence award for its Air Pollution Educational and Research Scholarship Program. The Air and Waste Management Association is a professional organization for those working in the environmental field. Under this program, four doctoral and post-doctoral students are given $25,000 scholarships to pursue research to reduce air pollution. The scholarship winners are chosen by a six-member panel of environmental and public-health researchers and are selected on scientific merit.

Scholarship winners from New Jersey have included Feng Qiao of Rutgers University for his study of the performance of biofilters; Dr. John Hunter of UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers University for a study of airborne mercury; and Shu Yan of Rutgersfor his work on the deposition of persistent organic pollutants in an estuary.

The awards were presented on March 20th by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman at a ceremony in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.