Meeting the Challenges
of Particulate Matter Air Pollution: EPA’s PM Research Centers
September 27, 2004 • Washington, DC
Grantee Research Project Results
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.
Background: Particulate Matter Research Centers
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:
- Harvard University
- New York University
- University of California, Los Angeles
- University of Rochester
- University of Washington, Seattle
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.