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Environmental Factor

Environmental Factor

Your Online Source for NIEHS News

August 2017

NIEHS employees rid local highway of litter

Volunteers do their part to keep a stretch of road near the institute trash-free.

Several NIEHS employees came together to keep their community clean. On June 27, volunteers picked up trash along the 1.2-mile stretch of Hopson Road between Davis Drive and NC Highway 55 in Research Triangle Park. The mid-day outing was part of North Carolina's Adopt-A-Highway Program, a longstanding effort to reduce litter and preserve the natural beauty of The Old North State.

"This was my first time participating with Adopt-A-Highway, and it was really a positive experience," said Ellen Moul, an NIEHS branch chief. "It was definitely a lot of work, but very much worth the effort, given how pretty that stretch of road is when it’s clean."

In past years, NIEHS cleanup teams dealt with hot and humid weather, typical of North Carolina summers. This time, the road crew was treated to a light breeze and mild temperatures in the low 80s, courtesy of a cool front moving through the area. The bearable climate made the work much easier.

A tradition of helping

The Adopt-A-Highway Program began in 1988 as a response to growing concerns from local citizens about litter on area roadsides. It hosts representatives from government and private-sector entities from across the state.

"Coming out here is always an adventure, in that we never know what we’re going to find," said Paul Johnson, a co-chair of NIEHS’ Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee and a cleanup team organizer. "Sometimes it's just ordinary litter like soda cans and candy bar wrappers. Other times, it’s the leftover debris from a car crash like the stuff we found today."

In all, the group collected five jumbo trash bags filled with litter, plus another three filled with recyclables.

(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with the NIEHS Office of Communication and Public Liaison, and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor)

NIEHS cleanup team photo on Hopson Road The NIEHS cleanup team from left to right: Johnson, Schaaper, Willis, Steinmetz, Humble, Innes, and Moul. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Roel Schaaper carrying litter Schaaper brought trash and recyclables to the meetup pile. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Roel Schaaper and Paul Johnson picking up litter Johnson, left, and Schaaper picked up cigarette butts from alongside Hopson Road. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
paul johnson searching for trash to pick up Johnson is a mainstay of the NIEHS Adopt-A-Highway cleanup team. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
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