New report unveils environmental performance

Los Alamos National Lab programs monitor soil, water, air, animals and plants across the 40-square mile campus and surrounding area

February 12, 2024

Members of the Soil, Foodstuffs and Biota Program make the trek to the Rio Grande for their triennial sampling campaign.

The ASER characterizes the Lab’s environmental performance with data from programs monitoring soil, water, air, animals and plants. The report also summarizes Laboratory environmental compliance programs, the estimated radiation dose to the public from Laboratory operations, how the Laboratory protects biological and cultural resources in its operating vicinity, and how it manages the radiological and hazardous waste generated during mission-related activities. More than nine months in the making, the 2023 report references 2022 data.

“Our environmental compliance programs help us adhere to regulations to ensure we are positively engaging with the natural world around us, and our monitoring programs collect crucial data that offer added certainty with regard to the Laboratory’s environmental impact,” said J’nette Hyatt, senior director for the Lab’s Environment and Waste Programs. “These programs, as well as others related to environmental stewardship and waste management, help ensure a sustainable future for the land, air and water we’re entrusted to manage.”

At the Laboratory, designated employees work on environmental stewardship projects that include protecting the habitat of the Mexican spotted owl and tracking pinyon jays; sampling local honey, eggs and crops to ensure they’re not impacted by Lab operations; practicing responsible wildfire mitigation; and preserving archaeological sites.

The ASER is a congressionally mandated deliverable, required by the Department of Energy to ensure dissemination of data pertaining to environment, safety and health issues and to ensure protection of the public and environment against undue risk from radiation associated with DOE activities.

Read the full ASER Report.

Read the ASER Summary magazine.

8 key takeaways

  1. Radiation Protection – The Lab has more than 40 ambient air monitoring stations and 27 monitored exhaust stacks, making it the most rigorous air quality sampling program in the country. Over the past 10 years, the Lab has consistently measured its radioactive emissions at less than 10% of the regulatory limit.
  2. Emissions Dose to Public – The estimated maximum dose of airborne radionuclides to a member of the public in 2022 was 0.45 millirem, less than 5% of the 10 millirem dose limit allowed by the Clean Air Act.
  3. Threatened & Endangered Species Protection – Lab biologists found all projects in compliance with endangered species protection requirements.
  4. Cultural Resource Management – Lab archaeologists conducted surveys and verified site boundaries to ensure cultural resource compliance of 27 projects.
  5. Monitoring Stormwater Runoff from Lab – In 2022, environmental professionals performed 908 construction site inspections, evaluating storm water controls and site activities, to assess permit compliance. 864 of the inspections (95%) identified the sites to be in compliance. All non-compliant conditions and required corrective actions were addressed following the inspections.
  6. Wildlife Studies – In winter 2022, Lab biologists began a site-wide pilot study of pinyon jays to better understand their habitat, as well as the potential threat the Lab may pose to it, as the species nears potential listing as a federally threatened or endangered species. Biologists also supported surrounding agencies in studying the effects wildfire mitigation efforts may have on mountain lion habitat.
  7. PFAS Sampling in Mammals: With one of the most extensive PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) sampling programs across the DOE complex, the Lab continues to study how widespread these industrial chemicals of recent nationwide concern are in the environment and food chain.

Questions or hard copy request

Questions or suggestions on making this document more useful? Want to request a printed copy of the Annual Site Environmental Report Summary? Email

How can birdsong recordings help scientists?

Biologists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have been collecting birdsong audio files from the pale blue, long-billed bird that relies heavily on piñon-juniper woodlands, a prevalent habitat on Lab property. Monitoring the pinyon jay, a native New Mexican species in decline, helps scientists better understand the birds’ on-site presence and avoid impacts to the Lab’s mission deliveries. It's also part of the Lab's responsibility to steward its natural resources. Read more here.