Public Interest Center

Showing Fish to Kids

Our office responds to citizen and media inquiries regarding environmental issues and Agency actions. We prepare news releases; facilitate public hearings; and implement public involvement activities for citizen organizations, community leaders and other parties interested in environmental issues. We also oversee publications, produce videos and manage the Agency’s website.




    Members of the media are encouraged to contact Ohio EPA's public information officers with questions about environmental issues. Click on the Contacts tab above to find the media relations coordinator for your region of Ohio. Click here to see a map of the district office boundaries.

    Current News Releases and Archived News Releases back to 2012

    Online Media Kits 

    2011 News Releases




















    Ohio EPA recognizes that its mission and vision cannot be achieved without input from Ohio citizens. The Agency places a high priority on public involvement and encourages citizens to become involved in our decision-making processes.

    Public involvement efforts are designed to enable Ohioans to be a part of environmental decisions that affect their lives. The Agency offers public hearings, informational meetings, advisory board meetings, round table discussions and various publications to educate the public about environmental issues.

    Each area of the state is served by a public involvement coordinator. Click on the Contacts tab above to find the public involvement coordinator for your region of Ohio. Click here to see a map of the district office boundaries.

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


    Click to enlarge the image, or download a PDF.

    In one day, the average Ohioan generates almost 10 lbs. of garbage including packaging, bottles, cans, yard waste, food scraps, clothing and other items. Though you may not realize it, the products you buy and throw away have significant impact on the environment. Over the years, consumers have been persuaded that disposable products and throwaway packaging are more attractive and convenient than reusable or durable goods. However, when purchasing reusable and recycled products, we prevent pollution, save energy, conserve resources, reduce pollutants and waste, and lessen exposure to harmful materials. The easiest, most direct way for you to make a difference in your home is to watch what you buy and throw away.

    Practice the three R's: first reduce how much you use, then reuse what you can and recycle the rest. Next, dispose of what's left in the most environmentally friendly way. For more information, visit our recycling page or explore the Consumer's Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste.


    Prevent Pollution

    Click on the image to enlarge or download a PDF.

    Use Less Toxic Products

    Common household products containing hazardous materials can pose a threat to people and the environment, especially when handled or disposed of improperly. Whenever possible, buy the smallest amount of material needed to get the job done or use a less-hazardous alternative in place of the hazardous product.

    If you can't use up a product, donate it to someone who can use it. In many cases, even products that have been stored for a few years can still be safely used according to label directions. In addition, some wastes such as used motor oils, solvents and car batteries can be regenerated or recycled.

    For more information about how to get rid of some of the more common household hazardous waste, visit our recycling page.

    Click on the image to enlarge or download a PDF.

    Other Resources

    Conserve Energy

    Find Energy Star products for your home - Choosing energy-efficient products can save families about 30 percent or $400 a year. ENERGY STAR is the government's backed symbol for energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label makes it easy to know which products to buy without sacrificing features, style or comfort that you expect.

    U.S. EPA's Energy Star Home Advisor is an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended, customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

    The site guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an Energy Star home profile. Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter.

    Over time, users can update their home profiles as they make improvements, see the positive environmental impacts of the changes they’ve made, get additional recommendations, and update their “to-do” lists for future projects. The home profiles can also be printed and used at the time of sale.

    More steps you can take:

    •  Turn off appliances and lights when you leave the room.
    •  Use the microwave to cook small meals. (It uses less power than an oven.)
    •  Purchase "green power" for your home's electricity. (Contact your power supplier to see where and if it is available.)
    •  Repair leaky air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
    •  Clean or replace furnace and air conditioner filter.
    •  Cut back on air conditioning and heating use.
    •  Install a programmable thermostat in your home.
    •  Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting. An insulating blanket around your water heater will save energy and pay for itself within a year.
    •  Insulate your home, water heater and pipes.
    •  Complete an energy audit if offered by your local energy company.
    •  Use a clothesline when feasible to dry clothes and save electricity.

    Conserve Water

    Choose Water-Efficient Products and Test Your WaterSense - A family of four uses 400 gallons of water every day. U.S. EPA's WaterSense program helps conserve water for future generations by providing information about products and programs that save water without sacrificing performance.

    More steps you can take indoors:

    • Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth.
    • Take short showers instead of tub baths.
    • Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
    • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher; wash only full loads.
    • Wash only full loads of laundry and use the appropriate water level or load size selection on the washing machine.
    • Buy high-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances.
    • Repair all leaks (a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day).


    Composting leaves and other organic wastes at home is very easy and practical. Once you learn the basic composting method, you can turn out rich compost for use on your property. Using compost yields faster-growing, stronger plants. The chief value in using compost is the beneficial effect on soil structure. Incorporating compost into the soil improves aeration and drainage and makes the soil loose and easy to work.

    To help you get started, see Ohio EPA's fact sheet, Composting: A Citizen's Guide to the Proper Disposal of Leaves and Other Organic Materials. Kids can find a fun worm activity in the Never Underestimate the Power of a Worm activity book. For more information about composting, visit the Division of Materials and Waste Management's composting page.

    Practice Green Landscaping

    Your Yard and Clean Air - This document provides tips on how you can prevent pollution in your own backyard by adopting practices that will help protect the environment now and in the future.

    Lawn and Garden and Tips for a Waste-Free Lawn and Garden - Learn about many things you can do to reduce waste and conserve resources from caring for your lawn and garden equipment, to greenscaping.

    Green Landscaping with Native Plants - This site provides a wizard that answers commonly asked questions about landscaping with native wild flowers and grasses in the Great Lakes region.

    Greenscaping – U.S. EPA's GreenScapes Program can show you how to reduce the environmental impacts of landscaping your lawn and property by grasscycling, mulching and composting.

    More steps you can take:

    • Keep your yard healthy — dethatch, use mulch, etc.
    • Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
    • Landscape using "rain garden" techniques to save water and reduce storm water runoff.
    • Minimize the need for pesticides by choosing plant species that are resistant to insects and disease. Landscaping with native plant species works best. Provide habitats for birds, bats, toads, etc. that prey on insect pests. Introduce praying mantises, lacewings, ladybugs and other pest-eaters to your garden. 
    • Do not over apply pesticides and fertilizers. Follow directions and use judiciously. Pull weeds by hand when possible.
    • Never allow any chemicals, yard wastes or any other materials to be washed town or put into storm drains.
    • Allow roof gutters to drain over your lawn instead of draining directly to the street.
    • Yard and food wastes make up about 28 percent of our household garbage. If you have space, compost these organic materials into fertilizer for your yard and garden.
    • Donate bulky yard debris and leaves to community garden projects or see if your town has a composting or yard waste collection program.
    • Use a mulching lawn mower, or buy a mulching attachment for your current mower. Grass clippings will work their way back into the soil as a natural fertilizer.
    • Reduce non-point source water pollution by minimizing use of fertilizer and pesticide on lawns.

    Reduce Storm Water Pollution and Runoff

    Click on the image to enlarge, or download a PDF

    In open fields, forests and wetlands, most rain is absorbed by the soil or taken up by plants and trees. In developed areas, rain or snow that falls on impermeable roofs, parking lots, streets and lawns is not absorbed. This precipitation (called storm water or storm water runoff) enters local water bodies through storm sewer systems.

    According to U.S. EPA’s National Water Quality Inventory, polluted storm water runoff is a leading cause of impairment to U.S. water bodies that do not meet water quality standards — nearly 40 percent of those surveyed. This discharge can destroy fish, wildlife and aquatic life habitats; lessen aesthetic value; and threaten public health with contaminated food, drinking water supplies and recreational waterways. Unlike pollution from sewage treatment plants, storm water pollution comes from many different sources.

    Storm water runoff can dissolve, pick up and transport many types of household products that cause this pollution. Automotive waste, lawn chemicals, paints and eroded soil are all pollutants. Many types of litter can create storm water pollution as well.

    Check out Storm Water Management: What you can do at home for more information. Communities or businesses with storm water management questions should refer to the Division of Surface Water's storm water program page. More steps you can take:

    • Don't waste water — Water the lawn or garden during the coolest part of the day (early morning is best) and only water plants according to what they need. Check with your local extension service or nurseries for advice.
    • Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden only — not the street or sidewalk.
    • Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees and shrubs.
    • Keep your yard healthy — dethatch, use mulch, etc.
    • Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
    • Landscape using "rain garden" techniques to save water and reduce storm water runoff.
    • Video: "Reduce Runoff: Slow It Down, Spread It Out, Soak It In"
    • Check with your local soil and water conservation district for rain barrel information and to see if installation assistance is available.
    • Do not over apply pesticides and fertilizers. Follow directions and use judiciously. Pull weeds by hand when possible.
    • Never allow any chemicals, yard wastes or any other materials to be washed town or put into storm drains.
    • Allow roof gutters to drain over your lawn instead of draining directly to the street.
    • Reduce non-point source water pollution by minimizing use of fertilizer and pesticide on lawns.
    • Use a watering gauge when you water your lawn to prevent overwatering.

    Maintain Your Vehicle

    Automobile fluids from leaks or maintenance changes are another source of water pollution. Each year Americans dump enough used oil in landfills to equal approximately 13 spills the size of the Exxon Valdez spill! Even more oil is disposed of illegally. Much of this oil eventually finds its way into our water. Never put used oil or other chemicals down storm drains or in drainage ditches. One quart of oil can contaminate up to two million gallons of drinking water!

    More steps you can take:

    • More than 200 million tires are discarded each year in Ohio. Help reduce this amount and save money by buying high-mileage tires and maintaining proper air pressure. Remember to check your tire pressure monthly.
    • Clean up spilled brake fluid, oil, grease and antifreeze with kitty litter or other absorbent material. Do not hose them into the street where they can eventually reach local streams and lakes.
    • If you change your own oil or antifreeze, be sure to carefully collect all of the used oil or antifreeze in a proper container with a tight-fitting cap, and deliver it to a service or recycling center with the oil filter. Contact your local solid waste management district or call the Ohio Environment Hotline at (800)-CLEANUP to find the nearest collection center for your used automotive fluids.
    • Wash your car only when necessary; use a bucket to save water. Wash your car on a grassy area so the ground can filter the water. Or, go to a commercial car wash that uses water efficiently and disposes of runoff properly.

    Teach Kids About the Environment

    • Books For Children — Recommended reading list from Ohio EPA’s Public Interest Center to help children understand the environment.
    • U.S. EPA Student Center — Discover the world of things we leave behind. Our waste, garbage, junk and trash must go somewhere. Reducing, reusing and recycling will help us restore and protect our environment.
    • Make Less Waste — Simple guide and activity book for kids shows how backyard composting works and how kids can reduce waste.
    • Never Underestimate the Power of a Worm — Information and activity to teach about vermiculture.
    • Recycle City — This website is a project of the U.S. EPA’s Region 9 office in San Francisco.

    Improve Air Quality

    Click to enlarge the image, or download a PDF

    Phone: (614) 644-2160

    Fax: (614) 644-2738

    Email Webmaster

    Physical address:
    Ohio EPA - Public Interest Center
    Lazarus Government Center
    50 W. Town St., Suite 700
    Columbus, Ohio 43215

    Mailing address:
    Ohio EPA - PIC
    Lazarus Government Center
    50 W. Town St., Suite 700
    P.O. Box 1049
    Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049 


    Public Interest Center 
    Griesmer, Heidi
    Chief (614) 644-2782


    Media Relations Section
    Lee, James Manager and Statewide Issues (614) 644-2160
    Oros, Linda Northeast District (614) 644-2160
    Lauer, Heather Central and Southeast Districts (614) 644-2160
    Pierce, Dina Northwest and Southwest Districts (614) 644-2160


    Public Involvement Section
    McCarron, Mary Manager and Statewide Issues (614) 644-2160
    Settles, Mike Northeast District
    (614) 644-2160
    Peelle, Darla Northwest and Southwest Districts
    (614) 644-2160
    Weiss, Kristopher
    Central and Southeast Districts
    (614) 644-2160


    Print and Electronic Communications Section
    Allen, Cathryn Manager (614) 644-2160
    Sochor, Kathy Electronic Design Specialist (614) 644-2160
    Hsieh, Dan
    Audio/Video Specialist
    (614) 644-2160


    Support Staff
    Payne, Paula Office Assistant for Media Relations Staff: news releases, news clips, media lists (614) 644-2160
    Brown, Chris Office Assistant for Public Involvement Staff: public meeting materials, citizen mailing lists (614) 644-2160