Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Report on the Environment

Definition & Criteria

What are environmental indicators?

For EPA, an environmental indicator is a numerical value derived from actual measurements of a pressure, state or ambient condition, exposure or human health or ecological condition over a specified geographic domain, whose trends over time represent or draw attention to underlying trends in the condition of the environment.

The numerical values for the indicators presented in these reports were gathered from many different federal and state agencies and nongovernment organizations using a variety of methods. Over time, as improvements are made in measurement technology, sample design, quality assurance, and topic coverage, a more complete picture of the environment will become available. EPA is committed to releasing periodic updates of the ROE so that information on environmental condition and trends can be provided on a long-term basis to environmental professionals and interested members of the public.

How are the indicators chosen?

EPA uses the following criteria to determine what indicators should be included in the report, they are:

  • The indicator is useful. It answers (or makes an important contribution to answering) a question in the ROE.

  • The indicator is objective. It is developed and presented in an accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased manner.

  • The underlying data are characterized by sound collection methodologies, data management systems to protect its integrity, and quality assurance procedures.

  • Data are available to describe changes or trends and the latest available data are timely.

  • The data are comparable across time and space, and representative of the target population. Trends depicted in this indicator accurately represent the underlying trends in the target population.

  • The indicator is transparent and reproducible. The specific data used and the specific assumptions, analytic methods, and statistical procedures employed are clearly stated.

What isn't in the report?

The indicators in the ROE:

  • Rely on actual measurements of environmental and human health conditions over time.

  • Meet a set of standards, which include quality, accuracy, relevance, and comparability.

  • Were reviewed by an independent scientific panel to ensure that they meet these standards

  • Are national (or in some cases regional) in coverage. They do not describe trends or conditions of a specific locale.

  • Come from many governmental and nongovernmental organizations, which collect data over different periods and for varying purposes.

  • Can only partially answer the key questions.

How are the indicators Organized?

The report present indicators in five chapters: Air, Water, Land, Human Health, and Ecological Condition. In the Web site, these are also referred to as topics with more detailed subtopical areas. For each of the five chapters, EPA identified a set of priority questions that it considers to be most important and relevant to the Agency’s mission to protect the environment and human health, and of national interest.

When is the report to be released to the public?

The 2007 ROE is targeted for final release in late 2007/early 2008 once the document is complete the rigorous peer review process that makes it such a creditable document.

How can I help?

In developing this report, we reached out to our stakeholders, peer reviewers, and other interested parties to describe our analysis, evidence and schedule for the report. Our goal was to ensure a robust discussion and integrate your perspectives. As we continue to update the report with new information, questions or data, we continually want to involve citizens, governmental entities, and nongovernmental organizations to be our partners in the Environmental Indicators Initiative. By collecting data from other federal agencies and departments, EPA regional offices, state and local government, tribes, and other sources will be vital to sustaining a long-term effort to improve the way we measure and report on the nation's environmental conditions. To find out more how you can help, please contact your local EPA Regional Office.

Jump to main content.