Meeting the Challenges
of Particulate Matter Air Pollution: EPA’s PM Research Centers
September 27, 2004 • Washington, DC
This meeting provided a clear and concise summary of the important research
findings and accomplishments related to PM that have been developed by
the EPA-funded PM research centers, EPA scientists, and EPA’s research
partners. Leading researchers discussed and synthesized scientific advances
in three key topical areas: the uncertainties in PM epidemiologic studies;
the biological explanations for how PM is causing premature mortality
and who is most susceptible to PM effects; and how sources, ambient particles,
and their toxic components impact health.
The afternoon agenda included a panel discussion on the PM research challenges
ahead. The panelists represented a variety of organizations and scientific
disciplines and provided different perspectives on these challenges. Featured
speakers at the meeting included Paul Gilman, Assistant Administrator
for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Jeffrey Holmstead,
Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, and
Daniel Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute.
This meeting presented a rare opportunity for some of the world’s
most prominent scientific experts on air pollution to communicate directly
with the nation’s stakeholders and policymakers about the latest
in PM research.
Research has shown that exposure to particulate matter (PM) air pollution
is linked to increases in respiratory health problems, hospitalization
for heart or lung disease, and even premature death. In response to these
findings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set National
Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM in 1997 to protect public
health. In 1998, Congress mandated that EPA accelerate its investigation
of PM health effects and find ways to reduce the risks associated with
exposure to PM. Over the past five years, EPA has made a significant resource
investment in PM research, including an expansion of the research program
within the EPA labs. The 1998 Appropriations bill included funding for
a PM research centers program. Following a competitive solicitation, EPA
awarded the following five centers:
In only five years, these EPA-funded PM centers, together with EPA scientists
and EPA’s research partners, have produced high priority, meaningful
research on PM pertinent to state and national air quality regulations
and policies. This research has been conducted in accordance with the
recommendations provided by the National Research Council of the National
Academy of Sciences (NAS), an independent committee of experts that was
assembled at the request of EPA in 1998. The five centers are finishing
the last year of their grants.
A new solicitation for PM research centers closed September 3, 2004.
Numerous applications were received and will be reviewed by an external
peer review committee. Decisions about new PM centers will occur by the
summer of 2005.