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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program

CLOSED - FOR REFERENCES PURPOSES ONLY

Health Effects of Near-Roadway Exposures to Air Pollution

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Funding Opportunity Number: EPA-G2008-STAR-B1

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.509

Solicitation Opening Date: November 13, 2007
Solicitation Closing Date: January 15, 2008, 4:00 pm Eastern Time

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (O'Farrell.Thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
Technical Contact:

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Table of Contents:
SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Application Materials
Agency Contacts
I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION
A. Introduction
B. Background
C. Authority and Regulations
D. Specific Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
E. References
F. Special Requirements
II. AWARD INFORMATION
III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION
A. Eligible Applicants
B. Cost Sharing
C. Other
IV. SUBMISSION INFORMATION
A. Internet Address to Request Initial Proposal Package
B. Content and Form of Initial Proposal Submission
C. Submission Dates and Times
D. Funding Restrictions
E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION
A. Review of Initial Proposals
B. Development of Full Application and Information on Past Performance
C. Full Application Review Criteria
1. Peer Review
2. Past Performance Review
D. Funding Decisions
VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION
A. Award Notices
B. Disputes
C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Access Standard STAR Forms (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/)
View research awarded under previous solicitations (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/archive/grants/)

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, is seeking initial proposals to study the health effects of near-roadway exposures to air pollution. To respond to this Request for Initial Proposals (RFIP), applicants will submit: a research proposal (not to exceed five pages); budget summary; 424 form and Key Contacts form; and two-page resumes of investigators (see Section IV for further information). EPA will review the initial proposals and the submitters of the highest-ranked proposals will be asked to submit full applications. After review of the full applications, one application will be selected for funding as a cooperative agreement.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Cooperative agreement
Estimated Number of Awards: 1
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $1.4 million total
Potential Funding per Award: Up to a total of $1,400,000, including direct and indirect costs, with a maximum duration of 3 years. Cost-sharing is not required. Initial proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Application Materials:
You may submit either a paper initial proposal or an electronic initial proposal (but not both) for this announcement. The necessary forms for submitting a STAR application will be found on the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) web site, http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. To apply electronically, you must use the proposal package available at Grants.gov (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Proposals” in Section IV). If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, you need to allow approximately one week to complete the registration process to apply electronically. This registration, and electronic submission of your proposal, must be performed by an authorized representative of your organization.

Agency Contacts:
Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (O'Farrell.Thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
Technical Contact:

I. FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

A. Introduction
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program, is seeking initial proposals for studies of the health effects associated with near-roadway exposures to air pollution. An expanding body of epidemiological data suggests that increased health risks are associated with air pollution exposures in populations residing close to roadways. These data have given rise to significant public health concerns leading several states and municipalities to re-examine plans for siting of schools, residences and other buildings in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic. At the same time, other programs encourage mixed land use in urban areas, aiming to reduce pollution by providing a variety of transportation options close to where people live and work. While such policy decisions are under consideration, uncertainties remain in understanding the specific nature and magnitude of health problems associated with near-road air pollution exposures and the factors responsible for susceptibility to health risks. Additional information on the impact of traffic on public health is needed to guide and inform policy decisions.

The objectives of the award(s) to be made under this solicitation are to improve understanding of:

  • the type and severity of health outcomes associated with near-road exposures and
  • the factors associated with roadways that may impact public health.

B. Background
In recent years, studies in the scientific literature indicate that human exposure to air pollutants in the immediate vicinity of large roadways is associated with a range of health effects, including adverse respiratory effects. Measurements of pollutant concentrations indicate that substantial elevations can occur near roads with large traffic volumes. Based on data from the American Housing Survey, approximately 36 million individuals live within 300 feet of a four-lane highway, railroad, or airport (1). Additionally, individuals are exposed to roadway pollution while traveling in vehicles or by going to school or work near major roadways. Clearly, exposure to air pollutants in the immediate vicinity of major roadways is prevalent across the United States.

The emerging evidence has led to concerns about the potential for adverse health impacts on those who live, attend school, or work in locations near heavily traveled roads. This concern has been a public focus in state and local decisions about transportation projects, including highways and freight terminals, and in decisions about the siting of schools due to the potential for significant childhood exposures. Other initiatives do just the opposite; they seek to reduce pollution by developing communities that are close to transportation corridors. In addition, decision-makers need to understand the impact of strategies that may mitigate pollution concentrations near roads, such as man-made or vegetation barriers. Policy decisions are being made while the scientific certainty for the links to exposures, hazardous agents, and adverse health effects varies greatly.

A number of epidemiologic studies have reported associations between near-roadway exposures and a range of health effects. Exposures are most often estimated based on measures of traffic volume or the distance of residences from a roadway. The largest and most consistent body of evidence links near-roadway exposures to respiratory effects. Studies in the United States, Europe and Asia have reported increased risk of respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, cough, chronic phlegm production and shortness of breath (2-8). A recent study from Southern California found that local exposure to traffic on a freeway has adverse effects on children’s lung development (9). Other studies have reported an increased risk of cardiopulmonary and stroke mortality related to close proximity to traffic (10, 11), and a study in Germany found an association between exposure to traffic and the onset of myocardial infarction within one hour afterward (12). Several studies in Southern California reported associations between perinatal health effects, including preterm births, and the mother’s exposure to traffic (13-16). However, studies of other health outcomes, such as asthma hospitalizations and risks of various cancers, have provided less consistent evidence (17).

Emissions of traffic related air pollutants impact air quality and exposures for people who live or spend considerable amounts of time on or near roadways. Studies have demonstrated that spatial gradients in several traffic related air pollutants (e.g. NOx, CO, elemental carbon, and ultrafine and coarse particles) decrease with distance from the road and generally return to levels upwind of the roadway within a few hundred meters (18-24). Most studies show that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is moderately impacted by traffic with greater contributions of ultrafine and coarse particles (18-19). The extent of the spatial impacts of traffic related air pollutants is related to factors including the type of roadway, traffic volume and intensity, and meteorology (20, 24-25). The areal extent of traffic generated particles, especially ultrafines, has been shown to vary diurnally and seasonally with the greatest spatial extent of the roadway plume occurring at night and during winter (20, 24). The composition of PM near roads is also impacted by traffic emissions with greater quantities of a number of metals including copper, iron, and antimony (26, 27). While most studies investigating the impact of traffic on health have relied on indicators of exposure such as proximity to roadway, few have relied on direct measurements of the composition of near-road air quality and exposures. Still, modeling capabilities exist to estimate differential exposures to traffic related air pollutants (28, 29).

EPA Contribution to the Co-operative Agreement
This announcement seeks initial proposals for a health study of near-road air pollution exposures which can benefit from near-road exposure data to be collected by EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD). A co-operative agreement award is similar to a grant award, in that both support research to accomplish a public purpose. In a co-operative agreement, there is substantial involvement in the research by EPA. For this solicitation, EPA will provide data that will be collected by ORD as part of near-roadway air sampling and exposure monitoring studies in Detroit, Michigan (2009), and Raleigh, North Carolina (2010). EPA is asking for research proposals for health studies which will benefit from this contribution.

The National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL) and the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) will conduct the studies in Detroit and Raleigh. NERL and NRMRL have considerable expertise in characterizing air quality, identifying source signatures, and quantifying human exposures to air pollutants. Additionally, the National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory (NHEERL) conducts epidemiological and toxicological studies of the health effects of air pollutants.

Scientists in NERL develop and apply monitoring methods and computer models to:

  • Further understand the processes that control the distribution, transport, transformation and fate of air pollutants as they move through the environment;
  • Identify and quantify the contribution of sources of air pollution; and
  • Characterize human exposures to air pollutants and the factors that influence them, such as the activity patterns of humans.

Scientists in NRMRL work in the areas of:

  • Emission source characterization;
  • Source signature development; and
  • Analytical method development.

Together the NERL and NRMRL possess an extensive array of off-the-shelf monitoring equipment as well as research-grade instruments that enable the collection of highly time resolved and time-integrated samples for detailed analysis of chemical components, both gas and particle phase. Laboratory analysis techniques include XRF and ICP-MS (high resolution and conventional) for metals, IC for inorganic constituents and GC-MS for volatile and semi-volatile organics. Capabilities additionally include a state of the art PM characterization laboratory complete with two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC), high resolution GC-MS, and ultrahigh performance liquid chromatograph with quadrupole-time-of-flight-mass spectrometry capabilities (QTOF) (an HPLC-MS with MS-MS capability). The NERL also has extensive computer modeling capabilities that include regional scale photochemical and transport air quality models (e.g., CMAQ), local scale dispersion models (e.g., AERMOD), source-receptor models (e.g. PMF, Unmix, CMB), land use regression models, and human exposure models (e.g., SHEDS). NRMRL scientists have extensive experience in indoor air pollution, building infiltration, and mitigation engineering. NERL scientists have previously conducted air quality and human exposure research studies in both the Detroit, MI and Raleigh, NC areas. Over the coming year, NRMRL and NERL will collaborate to develop state-of-the-art high time- resolution mobile monitoring capability for GIS pollutant concentration mapping and microenvironment studies.

NHEERL has considerable expertise in the design, conduct, and statistical analysis of epidemiologic panel studies that link environmental air pollutant exposures with adverse health effects. In addition, NHEERL researchers have extensive expertise in measuring a wide range of biological indicators and clinical endpoints in humans (e.g., markers of inflammation, clotting/coagulation, and markers of endothelial cells and cardiac function). After the cooperative agreement has been awarded, NHEERL will be interested in collaborating with the successful applicant by providing scientific and technical consultation.

Scientists from NERL and NRMRL will be conducting studies of the spatial variability of air pollutants adjacent to a major roadway (annual average daily traffic ≥ 150,000) in Detroit, MI and Raleigh, NC. These year-long studies consist of air pollutant measurements at various distances from the highway to better understand the factors that affect the magnitude and spatial distribution of air pollutants near highways in urban areas. The study design involves continuous measurements of CO, NOx, PM2.5, black carbon, meteorology and traffic characterization, and hourly integrated samples of benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. The highways being studied in Detroit, MI and Raleigh, NC have not yet been identified. In their proposals, applicants should describe plausible air quality and exposure assessment data to be provided by NERL that would support evaluating the proposed health-related hypotheses. For example, exposure assessment support from NERL and NRMRL may consist of additional measurements of traffic related markers at selected participants’ residences, determining source-receptor relationships for traffic related markers, developing a traffic-based land use regression model, spatially refined air quality modeling, and/or estimates of personal exposures to traffic related air pollutants from human exposure modeling.

The examples below are meant to provide applicants with a general scope of the type of resources available from EPA to provide additional measurements for characterizing near-road exposures. These examples are intended to be illustrative for different study designs.

  1. Small cohort panel study exposure characterization involving personal and/or residential measurements with specialized chemical characterization of traffic related air pollutants:
    • Personal, indoor and outdoor data for 10-15 participants monitored for 5 days each in two seasons (100-150 person-days of data).
    • Indoor/outdoor exposure characterization for 20-30 residences monitored for 5 days each in two seasons (200-300 residence-days of data).
  2. Simplified cross-sectional approach for panel studies involving outdoor measurements at approximately 40-50 residences monitored for 1-2 days each in two seasons with less specialized chemical characterization of traffic related air pollutants
  3. Intensive measurements of detailed chemical characterization for human studies (e.g. studies using particle concentrators) involving 8-16 weeks of intensive campaigns (quarterly or seasonal, evenly distributed accordingly) with a wide range of particle and gas characterization (options and capabilities described above)
  4. Outdoor-community characterization for population based epidemiological study involving 8-10 monitoring sites operated daily for 6-12 months with a focus on PM (e.g., fine and coarse). At 2 to 3 sites near-continuous monitoring of either fine or coarse PM could be operated. Ultrafine particle counts could be added at each site, but this would either affect the total number of operating sites or the duration they are operated.

Based on the information above, initial proposals should include a brief description of the EPA collaboration that would best support the applicant’s proposed study. Applicants may not contact or identify EPA specific cooperators for this initial proposal. A more detailed description of EPA’s role will be developed in the second phase of the application process.

The specific Strategic Goal and Objective from the EPA’s Strategic Plan that relate to this solicitation are:

Goal 1: Clean Air and Global Climate Change, Objective 1.6: Enhance Science and Research.

The EPA’s Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ocfo/plan/2006/entire_report.pdf (PDF) (184 pp, 11.56 MB)

C. Authority and Regulations
The authority for this Request for Initial Proposals and resulting awards is contained in the Clean Air Act, Section 103, 42 U.S.C. 7403.

For research with an international aspect, the above statutes are supplemented, as appropriate, by the National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102(2)(F).

Applicable regulations include: 40 CFR Part 30 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations), 40 CFR Part 31 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments) and 40 CFR Part 40 (Research and Demonstration Grants). Applicable OMB Circulars include: OMB Circular A-21 (Cost Principles for Educational Institutions) relocated to 2 CFR Part 220, OMB Circular A-87 (Cost Principles for State, Local and Indian Tribal Governments) relocated to 2 CFR Part 225, OMB Circular A-102 (Grants and Cooperative Agreements With State and Local Governments), OMB Circular A-110 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Other Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 215, and OMB Circular A-122, (Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations) relocated to 2 CFR Part 230.

D. Specific Research Areas of Interest/Expected Outputs and Outcomes
Note to applicant: The term “output” means an environmental activity or effort, and associated work products, related to a specific environmental goal(s), (e.g., testing a new methodology), that will be produced or developed over a period of time under the agreement. The term “outcome” means the result, effect, or consequence that will occur from the above activity that is related to an environmental, behavioral, or health-related objective.

The objective of this research program is to develop a clearer understanding of the nature of health effects associated with near-road exposures and how exposure and other factors (e.g., susceptibility) contribute to adverse effects. The proximity of roadways to schools, health care facilities, retirement housing or other types of residences, and other issues such as an individual’s occupation or activities might affect the nature and severity of health effects. Similarly, other demographic characteristics such as socioeconomic status, age and existing health status, and housing characteristics, could play important roles in assessing the factors affecting near-road impacts on human health.

This RFIP solicits proposals that should address the following key questions, and three or more of the following numbered issues:

  • Are human exposures to traffic-related emissions near roadways associated with adverse health responses?
  • What are the nature and severity of these health effects?
  • How do these health associations vary with specific aspects of traffic such as:
    1. composition of combustion-related emissions, including particles and gas phase compounds;
    2. particles that are mechanically generated during the on-road operation of motor vehicles, including brake/tire wear and road dust;
    3. noise and other traffic related stressors;
    4. expressway traffic versus stop-and-go traffic;
    5. on-road vehicle fleet characteristics, and
    6. proximity to the road?

Given the location-specific focus of this RFIP, the availability of exposure data provided by EPA, and the need for studies to fill critical data gaps on human health risks from near-road exposures, EPA is particularly interested in supporting human health studies within a well-characterized cohort, panel or clinical population. Of greatest interest are those proposals that will rely on EPA’s air quality and exposure assessment data to test clearly stated hypotheses regarding the health effects of exposure to near-road emissions.

The expected outputs from this research will be scientific data and information on the human health effects of exposures to near-road emissions. These outputs are expected to include articles in peer-reviewed journals, websites that convey information to state and local decision makers, periodic reports, and presentations at scientific conferences. The desired outcomes of this effort include: increased understanding of how health effects vary with differing aspects of traffic exposure, and the use of this information to reduce the uncertainty in health risk assessments of traffic-related air pollution and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state/local air quality management strategies.

E. References

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Housing Reports, Series H150/05, American Housing Survey for the United States: 2005 U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 20401, http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/h150-05.pdf. (616 pp, 4.02 MB)
  2. Brauer M, Hoek G, Van Vliet P, Meliefste K, Fischer PH, Wijga A, Koopman LP, Neijens HJ, Gerritsen J, Kerkhof M, Heinrich J, Bellander T, Brunekreef B. Air pollution from traffic and the development of respiratory infections and asthmatic and allergic symptoms in children. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002; 166(8):1092-8.
  3. Garshick E, Laden F, Hart JE, Caron A. Residence near a major road and respiratory symptoms in U.S. Veterans. Epidemiology. 2003; 14(6):728-36.
  4. Gehring U, Cyrys J, Sedlmeir G, Brunekreef B, Bellander T, Fischer P, Bauer CP, Reinhardt D, Wichmann HE, Heinrich J. Traffic-related air pollution and respiratory health during the first 2 yrs of life. Eur Respir J. 2002; 19(4):690-8.
  5. Oosterlee A, Drijver M, Lebret E, Brunekreef B. Chronic respiratory symptoms in children and adults living along streets with high traffic density. Occup Environ Med. 1996; 53(4):241-7.
  6. Peters JM, Avol E, Navidi W, London SJ, Gauderman WJ, Lurmann F, Linn WS, Margolis H, Rappaport E, Gong H, Thomas DC.A study of twelve Southern California communities with differing levels and types of air pollution. I. Prevalence of respiratory morbidity. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999; 159(3):760-7.
  7. Peters JM, Avol E, Gauderman WJ, Linn WS, Navidi W, London SJ, Margolis H, Rappaport E, Vora H, Gong H Jr, Thomas DC. A study of twelve Southern California communities with differing levels and types of air pollution. II. Effects on pulmonary function. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999; 159(3):768-75.
  8. Heinrich J, Wichmann HE. Traffic related pollutants in Europe and their effect on allergic disease. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004; 4(5):341-8. Review.
  9. Gauderman WJ, Vora H, McConnell R, Berhane K, Gilliland F, Thomas D, Lurmann F, Avol E, Kunzli N, Jerrett M, Peters J. Effect of Exposure to Traffic on Lung Development from 10 to 18 years of age: a cohort study. Lancet. 2007; 369, 571-577.
  10. Hoek G, Brunekreef B, Goldbohm S, Fischer P, van den Brandt PA. Association between mortality and indicators of traffic-related air pollution in the Netherlands: a cohort study. Lancet. 2002; 360(9341):1203-9.
  11. Maheswaran R, Elliott P. Stroke mortality associated with living near main roads in England and wales: a geographical study. Stroke. 2003; 34(12):2776-80.
  12. Peters A, von Klot S, Heier M, Trentinaglia I, Hormann A, Wichmann HE, Lowel H. Exposure to traffic and the onset of myocardial infarction, N Engl J Med. 2004; 351:1721-30.
  13. Wilhelm M, Ritz B. Residential proximity to traffic and adverse birth outcomes in Los Angeles County, California, 1994-1996. Environ Health Perspect. 2003;111:207-216.
  14. Wilhelm M, Ritz B. Local Variations in CO and particulate air pollution and adverse birth outcomes in Los Angeles County, California, USA. Environ Health Perspect. 2005; 112:1212-1221.
  15. Ritz B, Yu F. The effect of ambient carbon monoxide on low birth weight among children born in southern California between 1989 and 1993. Environ Health Perspect. 1999; 107(1):17-25.
  16. Ritz B, Yu F, Chapa G, Fruin S. Effect of air pollution on preterm birth among children born in Southern California between 1989 and 1993. Epidemiology. 2000; 11(5):502-11.
  17. White RH, Spengler JD, Kumkum MD, Barry BE, Samet JM. Report of workshop on traffic, health and infrastructure planning. Arch Env Occ Health. 2005; 60(2): 70-76.
  18. Zhu Y, Hinds WC, Kim SK, Sioutas C. Concentration and size distribution of ultrafine particles near a major highway. J Air Waste Manage Assoc. 2002; 52:1032-1042.
  19. Reponen T, Grinshpun SA, Trakumas S, Martuzevicius D, Wang ZM, LeMasters G, Lockey JE, Biswas P. Concentration gradient patterns of aerosol particles near interstate highways in the Greater Cincinnati airshed. J Environ Monit. 2003; 5(4):557-62.
  20. Zhu Y, Hinds W, Shen S, Sioutas C. Seasonal trends of concentration and size distribution of ultrafine particles near major highways in Los Angeles. Aerosol Sci Technol. 2004; 38(S1):5-13.
  21. Kittelson DB, Watts WF, Johnson JP. Nanoparticle emissions on Minnesota highways. Atmospheric Environment. 2004a; 38(1):9-19.
  22. Kittelson DB, Watts WF, Johnson JP, Remerowki ML, Ische EE, Oberdorster G, Gelein RM, Elder A, Hopke PK, Kim E, Zhao W, Zhou L, Jeong C-H. On-road exposure to highway aerosols. 1. Aerosol and gas measurements. Inhalation Toxicology 2004b; 16(S1):31-39.
  23. Westerdahl D, Fruin S, Sax T, Fine PM, Sioutas C. Mobile platform measurements of ultrafine particles and associated pollutant concentrations on freeways and residential streets in Los Angeles. Atmos Environ. 2005; 39:3597-3610.
  24. Zhu Y, Kuhn T, Mayo P, Hinds W. Comparison of daytime and nighttime concentration profiles and size distributions of ultrafine particles near a major highway. Environ Sci Technol. 2006; 40(8):2531-2536.
  25. Zhou Y, Levy J. Factors influencing the spatial extent of mobile source air pollution impacts: a meta-analysis. BMC Public Health. 2007; 7:89.
  26. Riediker M, Williams R, Devlin R, Griggs T, Bromberg P. Exposure to particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and other air pollutants inside patrol cars. Environ Sci Technol. 2003; 37(10):2084-93.
  27. Ntziachristos L, Ning Z, Geller M, Sioutas C.Particle Concentration and Characteristics near a Major Freeway with Heavy-Duty Diesel Traffic. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2007; 41(7) 2223-2230.
  28. Briggs DJ, de Hoogh C, Gulliver J, et al. A regression-based method for mapping traffic-related air pollution: application and testing in four contrasting urban environments. Sci Total Environ. 2000; 253:151-167.
  29. Heinrich J, Gehring U, Cyrys J, Brauer M, Hoek G, Fischer P, Bellander T, Brunekreef B. Exposure to traffic related air pollutants: self reported traffic intensity versus GIS modelled exposure. Occupat. Environ. Med. 2005; 62 (8): 517-523.

F. Special Requirements
Agency policy prevents EPA technical staff and managers from providing individual applicants information that may create an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, EPA employees will not review, comment, advise, and/or provide technical assistance to applicants preparing initial proposals or applications in response to EPA RFIPs or RFAs, nor will they endorse an initial proposal or application or discuss in any manner how the Agency will apply the published evaluation criteria for this competition.

Groups of two or more eligible applicants may choose to form a consortium and submit a single application for this assistance agreement. The application must identify which organization will be the recipient of the assistance agreement and which organizations(s) will be subawardees of the recipient.

II. AWARD INFORMATION

It is anticipated that a total of approximately $1.4 million will be awarded under this announcement, depending on the availability of funds and quality of initial proposals received. The EPA anticipates funding one (1) award under this RFIP. Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $1,400,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered. The total project period requested in an application submitted for this RFIP may not exceed three years. The EPA reserves the right to reject all initial proposals or applications and make no awards under this RFIP. The EPA reserves the right to make additional awards under this announcement, consistent with Agency policy, if additional funding becomes available after the original selections are made. Any additional selections for awards will be made no later than four months after the original selection decisions.

EPA intends to award a cooperative agreement under this announcement. When addressing a research question/problem of common interest, collaborations between scientists and the institution’s principal investigators are permitted under a cooperative agreement. These collaborations may include data and information exchange, providing technical input to experimental design and theoretical development, coordinating extramural research with in-house activities, the refinement of valuation endpoints, and joint authorship of journal articles on these activities. Proposals may not identify EPA specific cooperators; specific interactions between EPA’s investigators and those of the prospective recipient for cooperative agreements will be negotiated at the time of award. Proposals should include a brief description of the EPA collaboration that would best support the applicant’s proposed study.

III. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

A. Eligible Applicants
Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes public institutions of higher education and hospitals) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (includes private institutions of higher education and hospitals) located in the U.S., state and local governments, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, and U.S. territories or possessions are eligible to apply. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122, located at 2 CFR Part 230. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code that lobby are not eligible to apply.

National laboratories funded by Federal Agencies (Federally-Funded Research and Development Centers, “FFRDCs”) may not apply. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the applicant, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization. The institution, organization, or governance receiving the award may provide funds through its assistance agreement from the EPA to an FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal Agencies may not apply. Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on an assistance agreement, and may not receive salaries or augment their Agency’s appropriations in other ways through awards made under this program.

The applicant institution may enter into an agreement with a Federal Agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application. In addition, an appropriate form of assurance that documents the commitment, such as a letter of intent from the Federal Agency involved, should be included.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov) in NCER; phone 202-343-9862

B. Cost-Sharing
Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

C. Other
Initial proposals must substantially comply with the initial proposal submission instructions and requirements set forth in Section IV of this announcement or they will be rejected. In addition, where a page limitation is expressed in Section IV with respect to parts of the initial proposal, pages in excess of the page limit will not be reviewed. Initial proposal packages must be received by the EPA, or Grants.gov, on or before the solicitation closing date and time in Section IV of this announcement or they will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, initial proposals exceeding the funding limits or project period term described herein will be returned without review. Further, initial proposals that fail to demonstrate a public purpose of support or stimulation (e.g., by proposing research which primarily benefits a Federal program or provides a service for a Federal agency) will not be funded.

Initial proposals that do not propose health studies in either Detroit, Michigan, or Raleigh, North Carolina, will not be considered.

In addition, to be eligible for funding consideration, a project’s focus must consist of activities within the statutory terms of EPA’s financial assistance authorities; specifically, the statute(s) listed in I.C. above. Generally, a project must address the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of air pollution, water pollution, solid/hazardous waste pollution, toxic substances control, or pesticide control depending on which statute(s) is listed in I.C. above. These activities should relate to the gathering or transferring of information or advancing the state of knowledge. Proposals should emphasize this “learning” concept, as opposed to “fixing” an environmental problem via a well-established method. Proposals relating to other topics which are sometimes included within the term “environment” such as recreation, conservation, restoration, protection of wildlife habitats, etc., must describe the relationship of these topics to the statutorily required purpose of pollution prevention and/or control.

Initial proposals deemed ineligible for funding consideration will be notified within fifteen calendar days of the ineligibility determination.

IV. SUBMISSION INFORMATION

You may submit either a paper initial proposal or an electronic initial proposal (but not both) for this announcement. Instructions for both types of submission follow in Section E. If not otherwise marked, instructions apply to both types of submissions.

A. Internet Address to Request Initial Proposal Package
For paper initial proposal, forms and instructions can be found on the NCER web site: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/.

For electronic initial proposals, use the package available at Grants.gov (see “Submission Instructions for Electronic Applications” in Section E). Note: With the exception of the budget form (available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic initial proposalpackage.

For both paper and electronic initial proposals, an email will be sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact (see below) to acknowledge receipt of the initial proposals and transmit other important information. The email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; emails to this address will not be accepted. If you do not receive an email acknowledgment within 30 days of the submission closing date, immediately inform the Eligibility Contact shown in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your initial proposal not being reviewed. See “Submission Instructions for Electronic Initial Proposals” for additional information regarding acknowledgment of receipt of electronically submitted initial proposals. Please note: Due to often-lengthy delays in delivery, it is especially important that you monitor NCER’s confirmation of receipt of your initial proposal when using regular mail.

B. Content and Form of Initial Proposal Submission
The initial proposal is made by submitting the materials described below. Initial proposal packages must contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described.

  1. Standard Form 424

    The applicant must complete Standard Form 424. This form will be the first page(s) of the application. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form. (However, note that EPA requires that the entire requested dollar amount appear on the 424, not simply the proposed first year expenses.) The form must contain the original (or electronic) signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution.

    Applicants are required to provide a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for federal grants or cooperative agreements. Organizations may receive a DUNS number by calling 1-866-705-5711 or by visiting the web site at http://www.dnb.com. exit EPA

    Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs, applies to most EPA programs and assistance agreements, unless the program or assistance agreement supports tribal, training/fellowships (other than Wastewater and Small Water Systems Operator training programs), and research and development (with some exceptions). The SF424 refers to this Executive Order requirement. National research programs are generally exempt from review unless the proposals (a) require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or (b) do not require an EIS but will be newly initiated at a particular site and require unusual measures to limit the possibility of adverse exposure or hazard to the general public, or (c) have a unique geographic focus and are directly relevant to the governmental responsibilities of a State or local government within that geographic area. To determine whether their state participates in this process, and how to comply, applicants should consult http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants/spoc.html.

  2. Key Contacts Form

    The applicant must complete the Key Contacts form as the second page of the initial proposal: a Key Contacts continuation page is also available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms.

  3. Abstract (1 page)

    The abstract is a very important document in the review process. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describes the research being proposed and conveys all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of applications that receive funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

    The abstract should include the information described below (a-h). Examples of abstracts for current grants may be found on the NCER web site.

    1. Funding Opportunity Title and Number for this initial proposal.
    2. Project Title: Use the exact title of your project as it appears in the application. The title must be brief yet represent the major thrust of the project. Because the title will be used by those not familiar with the project, strike a balance between highly technical words and phrases and more commonly understood terminology. Do not use general phrases such as research on.
    3. Investigators: List the Principal Investigator, then the names and affiliations of each co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Provide a web site URL or an email contact address for additional information.
    4. Institution: In the same order as the list of investigators, list the name, city and state of each participating university or other applicant institution. The institution applying for assistance must be clearly identified.
    5. Project Period and Location: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates and the geographical location(s) where the work will be conducted.
    6. Project Cost: Show the total dollars requested from the EPA (include direct and indirect costs for all years).
    7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (1) the objectives of the study (including any hypotheses that will be tested), (2) the experimental approach to be used (a description of the proposed project), and (3) the expected results of the project and how it addresses the research needs identified in the solicitation, including the estimated improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will result from successful completion of the proposed work.
  4. Research Proposal. This description (not to exceed five pages) must provide the following information:
    1. Objectives: List the objectives of the proposed research and the hypotheses being tested during the project, and briefly state why the intended research is important and how it fulfills the requirements of the solicitation. This section should also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study.
    2. Approach/Activities: Outline the research design, methods, and techniques that you intend to use in meeting the objectives stated above.
    3. Expected Results, Benefits, Outputs, and Outcomes: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project (outputs) and the potential benefits of the results (outcomes).
    4. General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel expertise/experience, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc.
  5. Resumes. Provide resumes for each investigator and important co-worker (no more than 2 pages per person).
  6. Budget

    Prepare a short (up to 1 page) budget summary, showing estimates for budget categories such as Personnel, Travel, Equipment, Supplies, Contracts, and Indirect Costs (total amounts over the project period). If you wish, you may use the Itemized Budget Form found at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/. On the same page, briefly explain any of the listed cost estimates. This summary is intended only to provide a budget overview; detailed budget information will be requested of those applicants who are invited subsequently to develop full applications.

  7. Additional Requirements
    1. Funding Opportunity Number (FON)
      At various places in the application, applicants are asked to identify the Funding Opportunity Number.

      The Funding Opportunity Number (FON) for this RFIP is:
      Health Effects of Near-Roadway Exposures to Air Pollution, EPA-G2008-STAR-B1

    2. Confidentiality

      By submitting an initial proposal or full application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants the EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the initial proposal or full application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the initial proposal or application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful initial proposal or application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful initial proposal or application may be publicly disclosed to the extent permitted by law.

      In accordance with 40 CFR 2.203, applicants may claim all or a portion of the initial proposal or application as confidential business information (for example, hypotheses or methodologies contained in the research narrative that the applicant wishes to protect from possible public disclosure). EPA will evaluate confidentiality claims in accordance with 40 CFR Part 2. Applicants must clearly mark initial proposals or applications or portions thereof that they claim as confidential. If no claim of confidentiality is made, the EPA is not required to make an inquiry to the applicant as otherwise required by 40 CFR 2.204(c) (2) prior to disclosure.

C. Submission Dates and Times
For paper copy submissions, the original and two (2) copies of the complete initial proposal package (3 in all, see E. below) must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Electronic initial proposal packages must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Pre-applications received after the closing date and time will be returned to the sender without further consideration.

It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without prior notification because of factors not anticipated at the time of announcement. In the case of a change in the solicitation closing date, a new date will be posted on the NCER web site (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/) and a modification posted on www.grants.gov.

Solicitation Closing Date: January 15, 2008, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for paper initial proposals, 4:00 pm Eastern Time for electronic submissions.

NOTE: Customarily, applicants are notified about evaluation decisions within six months of the solicitation closing date.

D. Funding Restrictions
The funding mechanism for all awards issued under STAR solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq., the primary purpose of an assistance agreement is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In awarding this co-operative agreement, the EPA anticipates there will be substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation and conduct of this research. Additionally, the EPA will monitor research progress through annual reports provided by the award recipient and other contacts, including site visits, with the Principal Investigator.

If you wish to submit applications for more than one STAR funding opportunity you must ensure that the research proposed in each application is significantly different from any other that has been submitted to the EPA or from any other financial assistance you are currently receiving from the EPA or other federal government agency.

Collaborative applications involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved.

EPA awards funds to one eligible applicant as the “recipient” even if other eligible applicants are named as “partners” or “co-applicants” or members of a “coalition” or “consortium”. The recipient is accountable to EPA for the proper expenditure of funds.

Funding may be used to provide subgrants or subawards of financial assistance, which includes using subawards or subgrants to fund partnerships, provided the recipient complies with applicable requirements for subawards or subgrants including those contained in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate. Applicants must compete contracts for services and products, including consultant contracts, and conduct cost and price analyses to the extent required by the procurement provisions of the regulations at 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31, as appropriate. The regulations also contain limitations on consultant compensation. Applicants are not required to identify subawardees/subgrantees and/or contractors (including consultants) in their application. However, if they do, the fact that an applicant selected for award has named a specific subawardee/subgrantee, contractor, or consultant in the application EPA selects for funding does not relieve the applicant of its obligations to comply with subaward/subgrant and/or competitive procurement requirements as appropriate. Please note that applicants may not award sole source contracts to consulting, engineering or other firms assisting applicants with the proposal based solely on the firm's role in preparing the proposal/application.

Successful applicants cannot use subgrants or subawards to avoid requirements in EPA grant regulations for competitive procurement by using these instruments to acquire commercial services or products from for-profit organizations to carry out its assistance agreement. The nature of the transaction between the recipient and the subawardee or subgrantee must be consistent with the standards for distinguishing between vendor transactions and subrecipient assistance under Subpart B Section .210 of OMB Circular A-133 , and the definitions of subaward at 40 CFR 30.2(ff) or subgrant at 40 CFR 31.3, as applicable. EPA will not be a party to these transactions. Applicants acquiring commercial goods or services must comply with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR Part 31.36 and cannot use a subaward/subgrant as the funding mechanism.

Section V of the announcement describes the evaluation criteria and evaluation process that will be used by EPA to make selections under this announcement. During this evaluation, except for those criteria that relate to the applicant's own qualifications, past performance, and reporting history, the review panel will consider, if appropriate and relevant, the qualifications, expertise, and experience of:

  1. an applicant's named subawardees/subgrantees identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in the proposal/application that if it receives an award that the subaward/subgrant will be properly awarded consistent with the applicable regulations in 40 CFR Parts 30 or 31. For example, applicants must not use subawards/subgrants to obtain commercial services or products from for profit firms or individual consultants.
  2. an applicant's named contractor(s), including consultants, identified in the proposal/application if the applicant demonstrates in its proposal/application that the contractor(s) was selected in compliance with the competitive procurement standards in 40 CFR Part 30 or 40 CFR 31.36 as appropriate. For example, an applicant must demonstrate that it selected the contractor(s) competitively or that a proper non-competitive sole-source award consistent with the regulations will be made to the contractor(s), that efforts were made to provide small and disadvantaged businesses with opportunities to compete, and that some form of cost or price analysis was conducted. EPA may not accept sole source justifications for contracts for services or products that are otherwise readily available in the commercial marketplace.

EPA will not consider the qualifications, experience, and expertise of named subawardees/subgrantees and/or named contractor(s) during the proposal/application evaluation process unless the applicant complies with these requirements.

Each proposed project must be able to be completed within the project period and with the initial award of funds. Applicants should request the entire amount of money needed to complete the project. Recipients should not anticipate additional funding beyond the initial award of funds for a specific project.

Please note that when formulating budgets for proposals/applications, applicants must not include management fees or similar charges in excess of the direct costs and indirect costs at the rate approved by the applicants cognizant audit agency, or at the rate provided for by the terms of the agreement negotiated with EPA. The term "management fees or similar charges" refers to expenses added to the direct costs in order to accumulate and reserve funds for ongoing business expenses, unforeseen liabilities, or for other similar costs that are not allowable under EPA assistance agreements. Management fees or similar charges may not be used to improve or expand the project funded under this agreement, except to the extent authorized as a direct cost of carrying out the scope of work.

E. Submission Instructions and Other Submission Requirements
You may submit either a paper initial proposal or an electronic initial proposal (but not both) under this announcement.

  1. Submission Instructions for Paper Initial Proposals

    Three (3) copies of the initial proposal must be submitted: 1) an original, signed copy; 2) a single-sided copy on plain white paper for scanning (please label this copy); and 3) another photocopy for administrative purposes. Do not permanently bind or staple any of these copies; please use either binder or paper clips to secure them.

    Because of security concerns, paper initial proposals cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

    The following address must be used for regular mail:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8725F)
    Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20460

    The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8725F)
    Funding Opportunity Number: (applicant: place the appropriate number here)
    1025 F Street, NW (Room 3500)
    Washington, DC 20004
    Phone: (202) 233-0686
  2. Submission Instructions for Electronic Initial Proposals

    ATTENTION Microsoft Vista Users
    Please note that Grants.gov does not currently support the new Microsoft Vista Operating system. The PureEdge software used by Grants.gov for forms is not compatible with Vista. Grants.gov will be reviewing this new product to determine if it can be supported in the future.

    If you have any questions regarding this matter please email the Grants.gov Contact Center at support@grants.gov or call 1-800-518-4726.

    Please read this entire section before attempting an electronic submission through Grants.gov.

    Note: Submission instructions are updated on an as-needed basis. Please provide your AOR with a copy of the following instructions to avoid submission delays that may occur from the use of outdated instructions.

    1. Preparing for Submission. The appropriate electronic initial proposal package available through the http://www.grants.gov site must be used for electronic submissions. Note: With the exception of the budget form and the current and spending support form (available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms), all necessary forms are included in the electronic initial proposal package. In order to view the initial proposal package, download the PureEdge viewer (click on Apply for Grants, then see Apply Step 1). The initial proposal package may be quickly accessed from https://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html using the appropriate FON. Be sure to download the electronic application package for the appropriate FON. Please register for announcement change notification emails.

      The electronic submission of your initial proposal package must be made by an official representative of your institution who is registered with Grants.gov and authorized to sign for Federal assistance. For more information, go to http://www.grants.gov and click on Get Registered. Note that the registration process may take a week or longer to complete. If your organization is not currently registered with Grants.gov, please encourage your office to designate an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and begin the registration process as soon as possible. Most submission problems can be avoided by communicating with the AOR well before the solicitation closing date and allowing sufficient time for following the guidance provided below.

    2. Acknowledgement of Receipt. The complete initial proposal package must be transferred to Grants.gov no later than 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date (see Submission Dates and Times). Grants.gov provides acknowledgements of application receipt that include an on-screen notification of successful initial transfer as well as an e-mail notification of successful transfer from Grants.gov to EPA. While it is advisable to retain copies of these Grants.gov acknowledgements to document submission, the only official documentation that the initial proposal has been received by NCER is the e-mail acknowledgement sent by NCER to the Principal Investigator and the Administrative Contact. This email will be sent from receipt.application@epa.gov; emails to this address will not be accepted. If an email acknowledgment from NCER (not support@grants.gov) has not been received within 30 days of the solicitation closing date, immediately inform the Eligibility Contact shown in this solicitation. Failure to do so may result in your initial proposal not being reviewed.
    3. Initial Proposal Package Preparation. The initial proposal package consists of 1 though 4 below.
      1. On the initial electronic Grant Application Package page, complete the Application Filing Name field by entering the Principal Investigators name, starting with the last name. Note: Applicants do not need to complete the Competition ID field.
      2. Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424): Complete the form.
      3. EPA Key Contacts Form 5700-54: Complete the form. If additional pages are needed, see (4) below.
      4. Project Narrative Attachment Form (click on Add Mandatory Project Narrative): Attach a single electronic file labeled Initial Proposal that contains the items described in Section IV.B.3. through IV.B.6 (Abstract, Research Proposal, Resumes, and Budget) of this solicitation. In order to maintain format integrity, this file must be submitted in Adobe Acrobat PDF. Please review the PDF file for conversion errors prior to including it in the electronic application package; requests to rectify conversion errors will not be accepted if made after the solicitation closing date and time. If Key Contacts Continuation pages (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms) are needed, place them before the Abstract (IV.B.3.).

      Once the initial proposal package has been completed, the Submit button should be enabled. If the Submit button is not active, please contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Investigators should save the completed initial proposal package with two different file names before providing it to the AOR to avoid having to re-create the package should submission problems be experienced or a revised initial proposal needs to be submitted. Note: Revised initial proposals must be submitted before the solicitation closing date and time.

    4. Submitting the initial proposal. The initial proposal package must be transferred to Grants.gov by an AOR. The AOR should close all other software before attempting to submit the application package. Click the submit button of the application package. Your Internet browser will launch and a sign-in page will appear. Note: Minor problems are not uncommon with transfers to Grants.gov. It is essential to allow sufficient time to follow all trouble-shooting instructions, including contacting Grants.gov, before 4:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date.

      A successful transfer will end with an on-screen acknowledgement. For documentation purposes, print or screen capture this acknowledgement. If a submission problem occurs, reboot the computer turning the power off may be necessary and re-attempt the submission. If submission problems continue, contact Grants.gov for assistance (Telephone: 1-800-518-4726). Note: Grants.gov issues a case number upon a request for assistance.

    5. Transmission Difficulties. If transmission difficulties that result in a late transmission, no transmission, or rejection of the transmitted initial proposal are experienced and not resolved by following the above instructions, follow the guidance below. NCER may decide to review the initial proposal if it is clearly demonstrated that transmission difficulties were due solely as a result of problems associated with the transfer to Grants.gov. The decision regarding acceptance of the initial proposal for review will be made by NCER management and provided to the applicant within ten working days of the request. All e-mails, as described below, are to be sent to Thomas O'Farrell (O'Farrell.Thomas@epa.gov) with the FON in the subject line.
      1. Late transfer due to electronic submission problems: Should electronic submission problems result in the initial proposal being transferred to Grants.gov after 4:00 pm but before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date, send an e-mail documenting the problem and include the Grants.gov case number.
      2. Unsuccessful transfer of initial proposal package: If a successful transfer of the initial proposal cannot be accomplished even with assistance from Grants.gov due to electronic submission issues, send an e-mail before 5:00 pm Eastern Time on the solicitation closing date. Document the problem, include the Grants.gov case number, and attach the entire application.
      3. Grants.gov rejection of initial proposal: If a notification is received from Grants.gov stating that the initial proposal has been rejected for reasons other than late submittal, immediately send an email which includes any materials provided by Grants.gov with the entire initial proposal package attached.

V. APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

A. Review of Initial Proposals
All eligible (based on Section III) initial proposals for the cooperative agreement will undergo an internal review, as described below, conducted by technical experts from the EPA, including individuals from the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and program and regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. The purpose of this internal review is to assure an integrated research portfolio for the Agency and to determine which initial proposals to recommend for submission of full applications.

The internal EPA review panel will assess:

  1. The relevance of the proposed science to EPA research priorities. Is the proposal responsive to the research needs described in the RFIP? Does the proposal adequately address the objectives and special considerations specified by the RFIP?
  2. The overall conceptual design of the proposed research. Does the proposal include hypotheses and a plan for addressing the hypotheses? To what extent does the proposal rely on EPA’s air quality and exposure assessment data?

These criteria will be weighted equally. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each initial proposal. The average of these individual scores is translated into the final panel review score. Applicants whose initial proposals receive an average score of Excellent or Very Good will be invited to submit a full application which will be reviewed as described below. Further submission instructions will be provided to those applicants invited to submit full applications. Applicants whose initial proposals receive a score of good or lower will be notified that their initial proposals have been eliminated from further consideration for funding.

B. Development of Full Application and Information on Past Performance
The full applications will be reviewed as described below.

Prior to submitting full applications, finalists will be invited to meet as a group with EPA’s National Research Laboratories to learn more about EPA capabilities and plans for near-roadway research and data collection. To ensure equal access to information for all applicants, one meeting will be held at EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC on February 26, 2008. There will be teleconferencing available for those who do not attend in person. However, applicants cannot work jointly with EPA staff on their proposal until funding has been awarded. Once the award has been made, EPA staff and the awardees will work together to refine the technical details for implementing the roadway study. A meeting summary will be provided to finalists who are not able to attend the meeting.

Instructions on submitting full applications will be provided to the finalists approximately two months after the solicitation closing date. For informational purposes at this time, full applications will include:

  1. SF 424
  2. Key Contacts
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Abstract
  5. Research Plan, Quality Assurance Statement, Data Plan, and References
  6. Budget and Budget Justification
  7. Resumes
  8. Current and pending support for each investigator
  9. Past performance and reporting history of principal investigator-see D below.

C. Full Application Review Criteria
Applicants with initial proposals rated Excellent or Very Good by the internal review panel will be asked to submit full applications in accordance with the instructions that will be provided to them approximately two months after the solicitation closing date. The Full Application review process will include a peer review and review of past performance information as described below.

1. Peer Review
The full applications will be reviewed by an appropriate external technical peer review panel comprised of individual experts using the criteria below. This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit. Each peer review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers are asked to individually assign a score of excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor to each application. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final panel review score for these criteria.

Individual external peer review panel members consider an applications merit based on the criteria below. Criteria 1-5 are listed in descending order of importance:

  1. Research Plan (criteria 1a through 1f are essentially equal):
    1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed research methods, and the Quality Assurance Statement.
    2. Is the research approach practical and technically defensible, and can the project be performed within the proposed time period?
    3. Will the research contribute to scientific knowledge in the topic area?
    4. What are the projected benefits of the proposed activity to society, such as improving the environment or human health?
    5. Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
    6. Is the proposal well prepared with supportive information that is self-explanatory or understandable?
  2. Investigators: The qualifications of the Principal Investigator(s) and other key personnel, including research training, demonstrated knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records. Will all key personnel make a significant time commitment to the project?
  3. Facilities and equipment: The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project. Are there any deficiencies that may interfere with the successful completion of the research?
  4. Budget: Although budget information does not reflect on the applications scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications for the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.
2. Past Performance Review
At the time of submitting the full application, the applicant must also provide the EPA Project Officer with information on the proposed Lead PI's past performance and reporting history under prior Federal agency assistance agreements (assistance agreements include grants and cooperative agreements but not contracts) in terms of: (i) the level of success in performing each agreement, and (ii) how progress towards achieving the results intended under each agreement was reported. This information is required only for the proposed Lead PI's performance under Federal assistance agreements initiated within the last three years that were similar in size and scope to the proposed project.

NCER staff will conduct a review of the lead PI’s performance and reporting history. The proposed Lead PI’s past performance will be assessed in two areas: first, in successfully performing these prior Federal assistance projects, including whether there is a satisfactory explanation for any lack of success; second, in reporting progress towards achieving results under these agreements, including the proposed Lead PI’s history of submitting timely progress/final technical reports that adequately describe the progress toward achieving the expected results (outputs/outcomes) under the agreements. Any explanation of why progress towards achieving the results was not made will also be considered. Applicants whose proposed Lead PI has no relevant past performance and/or reporting history, or for whom this information is not available, will be evaluated neither favorably nor unfavorably on these elements. In conducting this review, the EPA will consider information provided by the applicant and may consider information from other sources, including prior and current grantors and agency files.

D. Funding Decisions
Final funding decisions are made by the NCER Director based on the results of the internal review of initial proposals, the peer review, and the past performance review. In addition, in making the final funding decisions, the NCER Director may also consider program balance, available funds, and the Congressionally-mandated Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCOR) (see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/other/). The Applicant selected for funding will be required to provide additional information listed below under “Award Notices.” The application will then be forwarded to EPA’s Grants and Interagency Agreement Management Division for award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

VI. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

A. Award Notices
Applicants will be notified of the results of the review of initial proposals within 2 months of the solicitation closing date. Finalists will be allowed 2 months for preparation of full applications. For those submitting full applications, a summary statement of the external scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with an award or declination letter. A final award decision will be made within 3-4 months of submission of the full applications.

The applicant to be recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract. They may also be asked to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, and/or to resubmit their proposal. EPA Project Officers will contact Principal Investigators to obtain these materials. Before or after an award, applicants may be required to provide additional quality assurance documentation.

Non-profit applicants that are recommended for funding under this announcement are subject to pre-award administrative capability reviews consistent with Section 8b., 8c. and 9d. of EPA Order 5700.8 - Policy on Assessing Capabilities of Non-Profit Applicants for Managing Assistance Awards (http://www.epa.gov/ogd/grants/award/5700_8.pdf (9 pp, 31 K)). In addition, non-profit applicants that qualify for funding may, depending on the size of the award, be required to fill out and submit to the Grants Management Office the Administrative Capabilities Form with supporting documents contained in Appendix A of EPA Order 5700.8.

The official notification of an award will be made by the Agency’s Grants and Interagency Agreement Management Division. Applicants are cautioned that only a grants officer is authorized to bind the Government to the expenditure of funds; preliminary selection by the NCER Director in the Office of Research and Development does not guarantee an award will be made.

B. Disputes
Disputes related to this assistance agreement competition will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures set forth in 70 FR 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005) which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogd/competition/resolution.htm. Questions regarding disputes may be referred to the Eligibility Contact identified below.

C. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Expectations and responsibilities of NCER cooperative agreement holders are summarized in this section. See http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for the full terms and conditions associated with an award, including which activities require prior approval from the EPA.

  1. Meetings: Principal Investigators will be expected to budget for, and participate in, periodic meetings with EPA scientists and other researchers to report on research activities and discuss issues of mutual interest.
  2. Approval of Changes after Award: Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there will be a significant change from the work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25. Note: prior written approval is also required from the EPA for incurring costs more than 90 calendar days prior to award.
  3. Human Subjects: A assistance award applicant must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 C.F.R. § 26. For observational studies involving children or pregnant women or nursing mothers please refer to Subparts B & D of 40 C.F.R. § 26. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR § 46.101(e) have long required "... compliance with pertinent Federal laws or regulations which provide additional protection for human subjects." EPA’s regulation 40 C.F.R. Part 26 is such a pertinent Federal regulation. Therefore, the applicant's Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must state that the applicant's study meets the EPA's regulations at 40 CFR § 26. No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the applicant’s IRB approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.
  4. Animal Welfare: An assistance award recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544), as amended, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2156. The recipient must also agree to abide by the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals used in Testing, Research, and Training" (50 Federal Register 20864-20865. May 20, 1985).
  5. Data Access and Information Release: After award, all data (including primary and secondary or existing data) must be made available to the NCER Project Officer without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata documentation adequate for specialists and non-specialists alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. If requested, the data products and their metadata must be provided to the NCER Project Officer in a standard exchange format no later than the due date of the cooperative agreement’s final report or the publication of the data product's associated results, whichever comes first.

    Congress, through OMB, has instructed each federal agency to implement Information Quality Guidelines designed to "provide policy and procedural guidance...for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information, including statistical information, disseminated by Federal agencies." The EPA's implementation may be found at http://epa.gov/quality/exmural.html#genreqts. These procedures may apply to data generated by assistance award recipients if those data are disseminated as described in the Guidelines.

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 located at 2 CFR Part 215 has been revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. If such data are requested by the public, the EPA must ask for it, and the grantee must submit it, in accordance with A-110 and the EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

  6. Reporting: A cooperative agreement recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports, with associated summaries, and a final report with an executive summary. The summaries will be posted on NCER’s website.

    A cooperative agreement recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the cooperative agreement that were based on research supported by the cooperative agreement. NCER posts references to all publications resulting from a cooperative agreement on the NCER web site.

  7. Acknowledgement of EPA Support: EPA’s full or partial support must be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under this agreement that are intended for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:
    This publication [article] was developed under STAR Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

    Alternatively, if articles are prepared with EPA co-authors, the articles will be submitted to the formal EPA review process, and will not include the above statement.

    A graphic that may be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. EPA expects recipients to use this graphic in oral and poster presentations.

  8. Exchange Network: EPA, states, territories, and tribes are working together to develop the National Environmental Information Exchange Network, a secure, Internet- and standards-based way to support electronic data reporting, sharing, and integration of both regulatory and non-regulatory environmental data. States, tribes and territories exchanging data with each other or with EPA, should make the Exchange Network and the Agency's connection to it, the Central Data Exchange (CDX), the standard way they exchange data and should phase out any legacy methods they have been using. More information on the Exchange Network is available at www.exchangenetwork.net. exit EPA

VII. AGENCY CONTACTS

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Information regarding this RFIP obtained from sources other than these Agency Contacts may not be accurate. Email inquiries are preferred.

Eligibility Contact: Tom Barnwell (barnwell.thomas@epa.gov); phone 202-343-9862
Electronic Submissions: Thomas O'Farrell (O'Farrell.Thomas@epa.gov); phone: 703-347-8085
Technical Contact:

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