Atmospheric Modeling and Analysis Research
EPA acientists apply existing models and tools, and develops new tools and approaches, to link air quality to human exposure and human health. Typically, epidemiological studies rely on ambient observations from sparse monitoring networks to provide metrics of exposure. Yet, for many pollutants in urban-areas, large spatial variations exist – particularly near roads and major industrial sources.
Further complicating the issue, ambient concentrations do not necessarily represent actual exposures, which can be influenced by infiltration of ambient concentrations into indoor facilities (such as automobiles, homes, schools, and work places) and activity of individuals (such as outdoor exercise, walking, commuting, etc.).
Populations are also impacted by the transport of pollutants. These multiple factors affecting exposure require approaches that scale from regional to local environments, and to individuals experiencing the exposure. Thus, this research provides analytical and physical modeling approaches that provide the spatial and temporal detail of concentration surfaces needed to understand the relationships among pollutants emitted, resulting air quality, and exposure of humans to these pollutants.
Research in Action
Community Multi-scale Air Quality Model (CMAQ)
CMAQ is a powerful computational tool used by EPA for air quality management, and by the National Weather Service to produce daily forecasts for ozone air quality. The model is also used by states to assess implementation actions needed to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards. CMAQ includes emission, meteorology, and chemical modeling components which help scientists reduce uncertainties in model simulations.
Researchers Examine Nanoparticles' Impact on Fuel Emissions and Air Pollution
EPA scientists are working with colleagues in the U.K. to sample air in areas in England where cerium oxide-based fuel additives are being used in diesel buses. Using data collected in this study, the scientists are building a model to examine how cerium oxide changes fuel emissions.
Fine-Scale Atmospheric Modeling for Use in Human Exposure and Health Studies
EPA scientists are developing pollutant dispersion models that simulate the way pollutants move through and collect in the air around us. This research will give air quality managers enhanced science and a new suite of modeling tools for developing and implementing ambient air quality policies that protect human health.