Grantee Research Project Results
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
EPA Announces the Availability of 1997 Grants for Research on:
Issues in Human Health Risk Assessment
Ambient Air Quality
Health Effects and Exposures to Particulate Matter and Associated Air Pollutants
SEE INDIVIDUAL CATEGORIES FOR APPLICATION SUBMISSION CLOSING DATES
EPA does not intend to mail this announcement in large quantities. Additional information, forms, etc., should be obtained by consulting this web site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and Development (ORD), invites research grant applications in the following areas of special interest to its mission:
- Exploratory Research
- Ecosystem Indicators
- Issues in Human Health Risk Assessment
- Endocrine Disruptors
- Ambient Air Quality
- Health Effects and Exposures to Particulate Matter and Associated
- Drinking Water
- Contaminated Sediments
This invitation provides relevant background information, summarizes EPA's interest in the topic areas, and describes the application and review process.
Water and Watersheds (joint with NSF)
Technology for a Sustainable Environment (joint with NSF)
Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (joint with NSF)
Harmful Algal Blooms (joint with NOAA, NSF, and ONR)
Bioremediation (joint with DOE, NSF, and ONR)
Metal Toxicities Associated with Mixtures: Molecular and Cellular Effects Relevant to Carcinogenesis (joint with NCI)
Ecosystem Restoration (joint with NASA)
Arsenic (joint with AWWARF and ACWA)
In fiscal year 1995 EPA began an expansion of its investigator-initiated research grants program for academic and not-for-profit institutions (the STAR Program, Science to Achieve Results). Subsequently, this program increased in fiscal years 1996 and 1997, and in fiscal year 1998 EPA anticipates reaching its programmatic goal of $100 million. As a part of that program, this Request for Applications (RFA) describes the EPA 1997 solicitation. Additional joint programs with the National Science Foundation and other agencies will be announced separately.
EPA Mission and R & D Strategy
The mission of EPA is to protect both environmental quality and human health through effective regulations and other policy implementation. Achievement of this mission requires the application of sound science to assessment of environmental problems and to evaluation of possible solutions. A significant challenge is to support both long-term research that anticipates future environmental problems as well as research that fills gaps in knowledge relevant to meeting current Agency goals. This Request for Applications and the multi-agency solicitations are important steps toward promoting a sound scientific foundation for environmental protection.
EPA's research programs focus on the reduction of uncertainty associated with risk assessment and reduction of risks to human health and ecosystems. Through its laboratories and through grants to academic and other not-for-profit institutions, EPA promotes research in both domains, according the highest priority to those areas in which risk assessors are most in need of new concepts, methods, and data. EPA also fosters the development and evaluation of new risk reduction technologies across a spectrum, from pollution prevention through end-of-pipe controls to remediation and monitoring. In all areas, EPA is interested in research that recognizes issues relating to environmental justice, the concept of achieving equal protection from environmental and health hazards for all people without regard to race, economic status, or culture.
EPA's extramural research grant programs are administered by ORD's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER). The individual topic areas are discussed below.
RESEARCH TOPICS OF INTEREST
1A. Environmental Biology.Examples of studies in this area include investigations to elucidate and increase our understanding of environmental biological processes at the molecular, cellular, organism, or population level. The ultimate application of this knowledge should be to better understand the impact human activities or environmental pollution may have on these biological systems.
1B. Environmental Chemistry.Applications submitted in this area may focus on the reaction of chemicals in various environmental media (e.g., air, soil, water) and models predicting the transformation of chemicals in the environment. In addition, studies developing unique or novel analytical techniques for monitoring chemicals in the environment would also be of interest.
1C. Physics.Potential applications in this area may focus on increasing our knowledge of physical processes in the environment, developing models describing the physical transport of anthropogenic substances through the environment, or describing how human activities may impact physical processes.
1D. Human Health.Applications submitted in this topic area may focus on determining the impact exposure to environmental stressors may have on human health. Specifically, toxicological studies for non-cancer or cancer health endpoints may be considered.. The results of studies in this topic should lead to improvements or have applications to environmental health risk assessments.
1E. Social Science.Applications submitted in this area may include economic (cost-benefit analysis), public policy (alternative approaches to regulation), and sociological (individual and organizational behavior) aspects of environmental problems. Studies focusing on existing EPA initiatives such as the Common Sense Initiative, Project XL (Excellence and Leadership) and Community-based environmental protection are of particular interest.
1F. Environmental Engineering.Applications submitted in this area may include control, remediation, and prevention technology approaches toward solving high priority environmental problems. Studies focusing on clean products and processes that may prevent pollution are of particular interest. Similarly, analytical tools and methods that assist in the identification of pollution prevention approaches are of interest.
Funding:Approximately $5 million is expected to be available in FY 1997 for new exploratory research grants. The projected award range is $75,000 to $125,000/year for up to 3 years.
EPA shares with other Federal agencies the responsibility to assess, prevent, and reverse adverse impacts of human activities on ecosystems. Monitoring all components of an ecosystem (soil, water, air, plants, animals, microorganisms) and their functional interactions is impractical, but certain measurable environmental variables, indicators, can be used as surrogates or markers of the more complete and complex structural and functional attributes that are the cause and consequence of ecosystem integrity and sustainability. An ecological indicator is a characteristic that is related to, or derived from, a measure of a biotic or abiotic variable that can provide quantitative information on ecological structure (component networks) and function (interactions). An indicator should thus contribute to the measurement of ecological integrity and sustainability.
Previous research efforts have largely concentrated on indicators within a single resource type (i.e., wetlands, estuaries, rivers, lakes, streams, or forests), at a single spatial scale and using a single sampling design. While proposed research on single-system, single-scale indicators will be considered in response to this solicitation, research that results in the development or application of ecological indicators that integrate between or among resource types, spatial scales, and/or sampling designs will be given highest priority. A description of a multi-tier framework of sampling designs for monitoring is provided below.
Monitoring FrameworkA monitoring framework to track status and trends in the condition of the nation's ecological resources was envisioned by both the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) and EPAs Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). These programs recognized that an assessment of ecosystem condition must consider multiple levels oforganization (organism, population, community, ecosystem), interactions of resource types (wetlands, estuaries, large rivers, lakes, streams, forests, etc.), multiple spatial scales (local, watershed, regional, national, global), and that various monitoring strategies were needed to answer the diverse questions related to ecosystem condition. A fundamental premise underlying this framework for environmental monitoring is that no single sampling design can effectively provide all of the information needed to evaluate environmental conditions and guide policy decisions. A tiered structure was developed to emphasize sampling designs based on three spatial scales:
Ultimately, measurements at all three levels must be performed in a coordinated fashion, allowing an improved understanding of ecosystems and an improved ability to manage those systems for integrity and sustainability.
ObjectivesEPA solicits proposals for research that leads to the development of techniques and indicators that characterize and quantify the integrity and sustainability of ecosystems at local, regional, national, and/or global scales. Applications should address the following prioritized research objectives:
(1) The highest priority objective is to stimulate the development,
evaluation, and integration of indicators, suites of indicators,
indices, and models to improve local, regional, national, and
global monitoring and assessment of ecological integrity and sustainability.
EPA recognizes the need to develop system-level indicators that
cross resource types, span spatial scales, and integrate sampling
designs. Cross-resource indicators may be represented by single
measurements that reflect and/or integrate conditions in more
than one type of ecosystem (e.g., amphibian populations dependent
on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) or different measurements
made jointly on more than one ecosystem, and then linked together
by an algorithm or model (e.g., simultaneously measuring linked
aquatic and terrestrial components of a watershed). Integration
across spatial scales may include indicators that combine patch
size, vegetation structure, and foliar condition into an index
of forest sustainability. Integration among sampling tiers may
include techniques that synthesize existing data from different
tiers or that combine indicators from different sampling designs
to better determine ecosystem condition.
(2) The second priority objective is to develop indicators of functional processes that contribute to ecological integrity and sustainability. In particular, research is needed on indicators that reflect critical functional associations among indicators from different resource types (e.g., the relationship between indicators of forest canopy and stream biotic integrity).
(3) The third priority objective is to develop indicators that identify effects of particular stressors of ecological integrity and sustainability. Research is requested that examines the potential of indicators to improve our ability to interpret changes in ecological integrity as a function of stressor type and exposure characteristics. Studies are desired that relate indicators of population or community structure/function to exposure to either chemical, physical, or biological stressors, consistent with clearly stated mechanistic cause-effect hypotheses. Examples include developing indicators of amphibian and reptile reproduction or estuarine plankton composition that would distinguish between the effects of pesticide exposure and of UV-B radiation.
Scope of ResearchEPA solicits research proposals related to the development or evaluation of ecological indicators, suites of indicators, indices, and models that could be used to characterize status or trends in multiple-resource ecosystems. Each proposal must address the potential for the proposed techniques to improve our ability to characterize with confidence ecological integrity and sustainability. Applications should provide a reasonable scientific conceptual model to account for the functional relationship between or among indicator(s) and their response to anthropogenic stressors. This solicitation emphasizes the need for indicators that cross resources, span spatial scales, and/or integrate sampling regimes.
InstrumentApplicants may apply for grants on their own behalf or establish interdisciplinary teams. Proposals involving multiple institutions are encouraged but are not necessary. Proposals representing research consortia should clearly identify the lead institution and the basis for allocating research funds.
Funding:Approximately $10 million will be available in fiscal year 1997 for funding proposals in the research areas described. It is anticipated that the annual funding levels (for up to three years) will range from $100,000 to $300,000 although research involving complex multiple scale issues may be funded up to $500,000.
Several recent pieces of legislation have mandated the consideration of cumulative risk and variability factors and press for stakeholder involvement in the risk characterization process. Specifically, the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (FQPA) directs EPA in its assessments of pesticide safety to focus in part on the cumulative effects of pesticides and other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity and the aggregate of dietary and non-occupational consumer exposure. These reports and laws point to an emerging body of evidence that suggests person-to-person differences in metabolism, genetic pre-disposition, physical environment, and age (infants, children, and elderly) may place certain groups of individuals at an increased risk from environmental stressors. This can result in decreased quality of life and increased illness and mortality.
The traditional standard default approaches used in risk assessment may underestimate the impact of environmental agents on particular groups of individuals. These approaches do not adequately account for complex exposure patterns involving multiple acute exposures and/or exposures to mixtures of toxic chemicals or for the variability in human biological responses to toxic chemicals. Expanded investigation in these areas will benefit risk assessment by providing the tools to identify and characterize high risk groups and by providing fundamental data to develop predictive approaches and more reliable assessment methods.
FQPA also directs the Federal Government to begin providing consumer right-to-know information related to understanding the risks and benefits of aggregate and cumulative exposure.
Human health risk assessment research is needed in the three areas described below.
3A. Human Health Effects of Complex Exposure PatternsResearch is needed on the influence of complex exposures on the non-cancer human health effects of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in the environment. Exposure of human beings to toxic chemicals arises from multiple sources and via multiple pathways. They also occur in a variety of complex temporal patterns. EPA risk assessments have usually focused on individual environmental agents, often considering chronic exposures from individual sources occuring via individual pathways. EPA would like to shift the emphasis to a more broadly based approach which incorporates multiple sources and pathways of exposure and considers complex exposure patterns such as multiple acute exposures and exposures to mixtures of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. The evaluation of the effects of these complex exposure patterns has been collectively termed cumulative risk assessment.
EPA is interested in sponsoring basic research to develop novel approaches for assessing cumulative human health risk and to develop methods to account for the multiple elements of environmental risk that affect human health: (1) who, what, and/or where is/are being affected? (2) what are the stressors? (3) what are the sources? (4) what are the pathways and routes of exposure? (5) what are the relevant timeframes? and (6) what are the assessment endpoints? Approaches might include measurement-based, multipathway human exposure assessment, toxicological studies, mechanistic research, pharmacokinetic and/or dose-response modeling.
Specifically, this research should include:
(1) studies to quantify the cumulative exposures resulting from
these complex multipathway exposure patterns, including studies
utilizing environmental, biological, and/or behavioral data, and
(2)toxicological and other studies that investigate the neurological, developmental, reproductive, and other non-cancer human health effects of these exposures, with the aim of developing dose-response relationships.
3B. Variability in Human Responses to Environmental AgentsResearch is needed to study the impact of genetic polymorphisms on human susceptibility to the effects of toxic chemicals in the environment. The intent should be to quantify these variabilities within the general population. These studies might also extend to the incorporation of results into dose-response models for use in risk assessment. Of interest would be molecular,epidemiological, and other types of research to examine:
(1)The causes and extent of interindividual variability in susceptibility
to neurological, developmental, reproductive, and other non-cancer
health effects resulting from exposure to toxic chemcials in the
(2)Possible relationships between susceptibility and such covariates as age, race, ethnicity, and sex; and
(3)Approaches for improving the default assumption that individual humans on average have the same susceptibility as populations of humans in epidemiological studies.
3C. Consumer Right-to-KnowThe FQPA requires the federal government to provide consumer right-to-know information in a format understandable to a lay person. Such information would be distributed to large retail grocers for public display related to the risks and benefits of pesticide chemical residues in or on food purchased by consumers with recommendations to consumers for reducing dietary exposure to pesticide chemical residues in a manner consistent with maintaining a healthy diet. Therefore, research is needed on how best to communicate the results of these more comprehensive assessments.
Risk communication research is needed: (1) to identify optimal communication strategies and tools with which to disseminate information and educate consumers, and (2) determine what kinds of information consumers will find most useful. Research is needed to explore whether any adjunct or complementary communication strategies (e.g., public information, health information campaign) would contribute to assuring that the public receives accurate, pertinent, and useful information. Factors that could be explored include, but need not be limited to: (1) strategies for increasing comprehensibility and retention of information, (2) strategies to motivate behavioral changes to reduce potential exposures, and (3) identifying factors key to ensuring understanding and cultural acceptability to minorities and potentially susceptible subpopulations.
Funding:About $5 million is expected to be available in fiscal year 1997 for awards in this program area. The projected award range is $50,000 to $300,000/year for up to three years.
In response to growing public health concerns related to chemicals in the environment which have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors, the Office of Research and Development of the EPA included Endocrine Disruptors as a high priority research issue in the ORD Strategic Plan and has developed an Endocrine Disruptors Research Plan. The plan identifies the need for three broad categories of research: biological-effects studies, exposure studies, and studies on the linkage of exposure and effects. Grant applications are sought in each category. The focus of the research may range from studies on wildlife populations and laboratory organisms, to humans, in both laboratory and field settings.
EPA has developed a three-year plan for the solicitation of research applications from the scientific community. In the forthcoming first year of the plan, research topics of interest include:
- Development and validation of in vivo and in vitro
test methods to screen toxicants, singly or in mixtures, for
endocrine-disrupting activity in vertebrate and invertebrate
species. Methods may employ tissues, cell lines, isolated receptors,
and enzymes in vitro, as well as bioassays and hormone
measurements in vivo.
- Development of new measurement and analytical methods, including
the development of field-portable devices for endocrine disruptors
in various media, e.g., air, water, soil.
- Studies in animal models on the modes and mechanisms of action
of endocrine disruptors on neuroendocrine, reproductive, immune,
and central nervous systems at the molecular, cellular, or functional
levels resulting from exposure during development, with emphasis
on identification of sensitive subpopulations (age/sex). Studies
may include physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PB-PK), physiologically-based
toxicokinetic (PB-TK), and biologically-based dose-response
- Development of QSAR models of endocrine disruption mechanisms
of action, including receptor binding, enzyme inhibition, etc.,
for vertebrate and invertebrate species.
- Development of animal models of endocrine disruptor-induced
human diseases, including reductions in sperm counts and increased
incidences of infertility, testicular cancer, hypospadias, endometriosis,
breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Studies to define the "baseline" endocrine status
in wildlife populations and their laboratory surrogates.
- Studies on the role of hormones in sexual differentiation
and reproductive development of non-mammalian species and the
effects of endocrine disruptors on this process.
- Identification and validation of measurement endpoints, in
vivo and in vitro screening methods, and other bioassays
indicative of the effects of endocrine disruptors at the level
of populations and communities.
- Studies of sites/systems with problems that are known or strongly
suspected to be related to endocrine disruptors.
Ankley, G.T., et al. (1996), Development of a research
strategy for assessing the ecological risk of endocrine disruptors.
Rev. Toxicol. Series B - Environmental Toxicology,
Kavlock, R.J., et al. (1996), Research needs for the risk assessment of health and environmental effects of endocrine disruptors: a report of the USEPA sponsored workshop, Environmental Health Perspectives 104 (Supplement 4):715-740.
Funding:About $3 million is expected to be available in fiscal year 1997 for awards in this program area. The projected award range is $100,000 to $200,000/year for up to 3 years.
In addition, the CAA requires control of toxic air pollutant emissions from point and area sources. The Act prescribes a phased approach to regulate both major point sources and area sources of air toxics. The control program for major sources is a technology-based control program that mandates the use of Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) for major sources emitting one or more of 189 listed hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). A strategy for controlling the 30 most hazardous toxic pollutants in urban areas is also mandated as is an assessment of residual risks in urban areas, which remain after control of these 30.
The EPA seeks applications for research aimed at generating new knowledge in these three major areas: fine particulate matter, tropospheric ozone, and air toxics.
5A. Tropospheric Ozone and Fine Particulate MatterTropospheric ozone research is being coordinated through the North American Research Strategy for Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO), a public/private sector cooperative 10-year research effort to both improve the technical understanding of the tropospheric ozone issue and support future evaluations and adjustments to attainment strategies. The EPA/ORD contribution to the NARSTO program emphasizes the areas of atmospheric chemistry and modeling, ambient measurement methods, and emissions research.
A similar cooperative multi-year research effort for fine particulate matter is also emerging. Much of the needed research for tropospheric ozone and fine particulate matter overlaps. Exploration of the most important unknowns in tropospheric ozone chemistry emphasizes atmospheric oxidation reactions which also play an important role in aerosol formation. Modeling the transport and fate of both ozone and particulates relies on similar meteorological processes and the same computational frameworks. Precursor nitrogen oxide emissions and ambient nitrate measurements are also important to both.
Research is needed in the following areas:
- Laboratory smog chamber studies of oxidant and aerosol production
from irradiated hydrocarbon (HC)/NOx/SO2/NH3
mixtures, including the production of organic nitrates from
- Theoretical and laboratory investigations of the chemical
heterogeneous reactions involved in atmospheric ozone and fine
particulate matter formation.
- Theoretical and laboratory investigations of the partitioning
of semi-volatile compounds between the gas and aerosol phases.
- Laboratory studies of the fine particulates formed during
reactions of OH radicals with higher molecular weight alkenes
and biogenic and aromatic VOCs.
- Computational atmospheric chemistry investigations of hydrocarbons
important in photochemical oxidant formation.
- Development and diagnostic evaluation of emissions-based modeling
which focuses on interactions of urban and point source plumes
with the surrounding regional atmosphere in the formation, transport,
and fate of ozone and/or fine particulates, using coding approaches
compatible with EPAs Models-3 framework.
- Monitoring and observations-based approaches to investigate
photochemical ozone and fine particulate problems and to develop
and evaluate emissions control strategies,including methods
for analysis and interpretation of data from the PAMS (Photochemical
Assessment Monitoring Station) network.
- Developing models for fine particulate matter which relate
ambient air quality models, and/or measurements at a central
point, with personal exposures.
- Describing the interaction of boundary layer turbulence, vertical
mixing, and cloud processes with atmospheric chemistry.
- Development and evaluation of a real-time instrument for determining
the size-dependent chemical composition of atmospheric particulate
matter, including its fine and coarse, biochemical, biogenic,
volatile, insoluble, and aqueous fractions.
- Developing new, more sensitive techniques for ambient measurement
on short time scales of chemically-significant, stable and unstable
trace gases and substances participating in the photochemistry
of ozone and/or the formation of fine particulate aerosols.
- Developing instrument methods and innovative data analysis
techniques useful in meeting the PAMS objectives for cost-effectiveness
and accurate monitoring.
- Developing algorithms for emissions inventories consistent
with ambient observations, and source apportionment techniques
for important ozone precursors and/or fine particle contributors.
- Developing methods and procedures for estimating condensible
organic compound, fugative dust, and ammonia emissions.
- Developing improved VOC monitoring techniques and receptor
modeling techniques as a check on VOC inventories.
- Developing new methods to improve transportation models used
to estimate mobile source spatial and temporal activity patterns.
- Developing measurement techniques for sampling fine particle
emissions from diesel engines with minimal deposition in sampling
- Developing new analytical techniques to measure nonpolar,
oxygenated biogenic volatile organic compound emissions from
trees and other vegetation.
Funding:Approximately $5 million is expected to be available in FY 97 for awards in thisprogram. Proposals in the $100,000 to $200,000/year range are encouraged. Duration of awards may be up to 3 years.
5B. Special Opportunity in Tropospheric OzoneThrough its NARSTO experience, EPA can see clear advantages of synergy and economy in using an integrated research approach in dealing with the two problems of tropospheric ozone and fine particulate matter in terms of scientific issues in atmospheric chemistry and modeling, measurement methods, and emissions. Therefore, in addition to individual-investigator proposals on the separate topics of tropospheric ozone and fine particulate matter, EPA is also encouraging multiple investigator proposals for regional approaches to these issues and will make one or two awards to address them on a regional basis. Potential applicants are encouraged to submit proposals, preferably through a coordinating center, which include the equivalent of several individual applications. In effect, EPA will support one or two regional consortia at the level of approximately $1 million per year, not to exceed a three year project period.
Potential applicants for this special opportunity ONLY should submit a pre-proposal following the instructions in section K of the application instructions. NCER will follow a two step process for this competition only in which pre-proposals are peer reviewed and the most meritorious applicants are invited to submit full proposals for final peer and programmatic review.
5C. Urban Air ToxicsThe Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1990 require EPA to develop an "Area Source Program" that includes both a national strategy and a research program. The mandated research program is intended to provide the scientific basis for development of a comprehensive national strategy to control emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) from area sources. The research program is to include "ambient monitoring," "analysis to characterize the sources and the contribution that such sources make to public health risks," and "consideration of atmospheric transformation and other factors which can elevate public health risks." The human health effects to be considered under the research program include carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, teratogenicity, neurotoxicity, reproductive dysfunction, and other acute and chronic effects of urban air pollutants. The national strategy must "identify not less than 30" HAPs that "present the greatest threat to public health in the largest number of urban areas." The strategy is to be fully imple mented by the year 2000 and must provide guidelines for controlling the area source emissions of the 30 or more identified HAPs, while simultaneously ensuring the reduction of at least 75% in the "incidence of cancer attributable to exposure to hazardous air pollutants."
A discussion of research needs for this area of interest is included in the EPA report "Urban Area Source Research Program: A Status Report on Preliminary Research" (EPA 600-R-95/027). Some of the critical research questions are highlighted below:
- What direct observational evidence (i.e., epidemiologic data)
is there to link health effects with ambient levels of exposure
to HAPs? Such research should focus on HAPs for whichlittle
information now exists and should use a multi-disciplinary approach
to address both exposure and the resultant human health effects.
Opportunities to leverage observational data from community-based
studies already in place should be exploited.
- What is the impact of mixtures of urban air pollutants on
public health? Urban air pollution is a "soup" of
chemicals; the chemicals come from many sources, are modified
by atmospheric transformation, and may exhibit a variety of
health effects. The risks posed by individual and mixtures of
such toxic pollutants need to be characterized.
- Are there subpopulations that may be at increased risk from
HAPs, due to higher exposures, or exposure to complex mixtures
of pollutants? What is the distribution of human exposures to
the various HAPs, both for susceptible subpopulations and the
general public? By what route, and how effectively, do the HAPs
- What are the most significant sources of toxic pollutants
of concern in urban areas? How can the most critical sources
be identified and their contribution to exposures and risk be
- How can monitoring and modeling (including emissions modeling,
dispersion modeling, source apportionment modeling, and human
exposure modeling) best be linked to estimate exposure and risk?
How can the distribution of human exposures best be estimated
for populations living and working near to identified point
Funding:About $2 million is expected to be available in FY 97 for awards in this program. Proposals in the $50,000 to $200,000/year range are encouraged. Duration of awards may be up to three years.
PollutantsAir pollution in the United States is regulated under the authority of the Clean Air Act to protect public health and welfare. Recently, EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed and reached consensus that there is increasing scientific confidence, based on numerous epidemiological studies, that particulate matter (PM) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality and these effects occur at exposure levels below the current standards. Significant uncertainties remain, however, about the biological mechanisms that could cause increased mortality or morbidity from PM exposures and about the nature of human exposures. The question of biological plausibility, i.e., "How could PM be causing these effects?" has received much less study. Animal toxicology studies have reproduced at higher concentrations the effects reported in humans: mortality, asthma-like effects, and increased infection-related morbidity. While several hypotheses regarding possible mechanisms underlying recently reported PM effects have been proposed, little research has been conducted to evaluate these hypotheses and to explore issues of dose-response and exposure scenarios.
The lack of understanding about biological mechanisms that could explain (a) the observed effects; (b) the reported independence of effects from particle composition; and © the lack of an obvious threshold for effects (i.e., the effects observed at very low exposures) underscores the critical need for research on mechanisms of PM toxicity. In addition the lack of research as to whether, and to what extent, the effects attributed to PM exposures are modified by other commonly occurring pollutants such as SO2 and ozone, leads to uncertainties in interpretation of epidemiological studies.
In addition, there are important scientific uncertainties regarding PM exposures. Uncertainties regarding exposure assessment (e.g., particle concentration, size, chemical speciation, spatial and temporal variability, and copollutants) for important subpopulations (e.g., children, the elderly, individuals with pre-existing disease) are critically important since they affect interpretation of the epidemiological studies on which PM risk estimates are based. Understanding regional and temporal variability in particle characteristics (e.g., Western versus Eastern U.S.) and toxicity (e.g., coarse natural fugitive dust particles versus fine combustion-derived particles) may also lead to more effective risk management.
Research is needed in the following areas:
- Investigation of causal mechanisms of PM toxicity. New clinical,
epidemiological, toxicological, and in vitro research
is needed for pulmonary, cardiovascular, and immunological effects
(or other effects) in normal and sensitive subpopulations to
better understand causal mechanisms by which PM, alone and/or
in combination with other air pollutants, may cause health effects
at levels below the current standard.
- Studies using intermediate biological endpoints (i.e., which
might relate to morbidity) hypothesized to be important to a
causal mechanism(s) are needed to simultaneously test mechanism
hypotheses and be indicative of dose-response relationships
for PM toxicity. Research is needed on coarse, fine, and ultrafine
- Research to reduce uncertainties in exposure assessment for
PM and associated copollutants. Research is needed to improve
the characterization of individual and population exposures
to PM (concentration, size, composition, fine mode versus coarse
mode, etc.) and copollutants, including relationships between
personal exposure to ambient PM, indoor PM, and total PM, and
to allow new epidemiological studies to better define relationships
between exposure to PM and other atmospheric constituents and
adverse health effects.
- Research is needed on the composition of little understood
components of PM such as organic compounds (non-volatile and
semi-volatile), primary biological materials, and species dissolved
in liquid particles. Characterization of the spatial, temporal,
and indoor/outdoor patterns of species such as NH4NO3
and parameters such as particle number is included. New or improved
instruments or techniques may be required for these studies
Funding:Approximately $2 million is expected to be available in FY 97 for awards in this program. Proposals in the $50,000 to $200,000/year range are encouraged. Duration of awards may be up to three years.
This section of the solicitation invites research grant applications in two areas of special interest to its mission: Microbial Pathogens in Drinking Water Systems and Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs).
7A. Microbial Pathogens in Drinking Water SystemsThe incidence of waterborne disease in the U.S. is highly uncertain. While the health effects caused by drinking water pathogens are generally known, limited information is available on the doses and conditions that produce effects. Limited information is also available on alternative disinfection methods for pathogens resistant to the conventional chlorine-based disinfection methods. Research is needed in the following areas:
- In many cases, the causative agents for waterborne disease
outbreaks have not been identified. Emerging pathogens, such
as Cyclospora and Helicobacter pylori, could play
a role in many of these outbreaks. Efficient methods for measuring
the incidence and viability of pathogens in water are needed
to assist in identifying the causative agents in future outbreaks.
For example, research is needed to develop and field test a
practical method for determining the viability and occurrence
of Cyclospora in drinking water. Research is needed to
determine Helicobacter occurrence patterns in raw water
via the development and field testing of a suitable recovery
and culture assay method. Innovative proposals for methods development
for other emerging pathogens are also encouraged. These methods
should be useful for dose-response and exposure estimates for
- Research is needed to develop an understanding of the risks
associated with exposure to primary waterborne pathogens (e.g.,
Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and enteric viruses) andto
emerging pathogens (e.g., Cyclospora, Mycobacteria, Helicobacter
pylori, microsporidia, caliciviruses, adenovirus 40/41,
and coxsackievirus B) as a function of such susceptibility factors
as age (e.g., children), nutrition, protective immunity, and
- The safety of drinking water is compromised by pathogenic
microorganisms resistant to standard disinfection methods. Research
is required on the efficacy of ultraviolet radiation (pulsed
and continuous) as a disinfectant in drinking water from various
groundwater and surface water sources, including those that
may pose limitations. In addition, research is needed on the
optimal ultraviolet light wavelengths for inactivating specific
species. Also needed is a better understanding of why pulsed
UV light has a more destructive impact on cyst viability than
continuous UV light.
7B. Drinking Water Disinfection ByproductsPublic water systems disinfect drinking water with chlorine or alternate disinfectants. While chlorine reduces microbial risk, the use of chlorine creates new potential risks from disinfection byproducts formed during the water treatment process. Research is needed to improve methods for estimating human exposures (via the oral, inhalation, and dermal routes) to the byproducts of different disinfection treatments. For the inhalation and dermal routes, research is especially needed on haloacetic acids, haloacetonitriles, haloketones, and aldehydes. Proposals should address research on biochemical markers of human exposure and/or the development and validation of models of human exposure to DBPs.
It is recognized that there are many other problems in assuring a safe drinking water supply to the public which this solicitation cannot address. EPA anticipates additional solicitations in the future which will focus on some of these.
Funding:Approximately $3 million is expected to be available in fiscal year 1997 for awards in this program area. The projected award range is $75,000 to $200,000/year with a duration of 2 or 3 years.
The question for researchers is, "What are the extent, severity, and human health and ecological consequences of contaminated sediments?" In its study on relative risk, EPA's Science Advisory Board cited the problem of input of toxics to surface waters, to which contaminated sediments would contribute, as a moderate source of risk. EPA's Contaminated Sediment Management Strategy (EPA 823-R-94-001, August 1994) highlights ecological impacts and human health concerns expressed through the 1200 fish consumption advisories that were issued in the last year by various state agencies, in which potential consumers are warned of unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in fish and shellfish.
A major issue is the reliability of the risk characterization of contaminated sediments which supports proposed management action decisions. If assessment endpoints have not been demonstrated to reflect ecosystem conditions, expenditures of large amounts of funds for remedial activities may not be justified. EPA seeks research applications for conducting field validations of sediment quality criteria, validations of test methods, and validation of models for determining and assessing ecological effects of contaminated sediments.
Field Validation of Sediment Quality CriteriaSediment quality criteria based on equilibrium partitioning make specific predictions of concentrations in sediments below which no effects should be seen and above which effects may be seen. The two chemical classes for which sediment quality criteria have been proposed are non-ionic organic chemicals and the cationic metals, cadmium, copper, nickel, lead, and zinc. A mixture model has been proposed for PAHs and metals. Studies of criteria levels for chemical groups need to be conducted to determine the degree of protection provided. It should be possible to examine field sites and to address multiple chemicals to determine if methods to predict total toxicity can be related to aquatic system communities.
Measures of ecological effects which are needed include in situ sediment toxicity, disruption of benthic communities, and elevated body burdens in organisms. Chemical measurements in pore water may be a useful determination. For metals, seasonal variations may be important since acid volatile sulfide levels are known to vary seasonally. The concern is that sediments would exhibit toxicity during the period of low acid volatile sulfides. Also, flux to overlying water could violate water quality criteria. The comparison of ecological effects to calculated sediment quality criteria will require the collection of additional chemical and flux data to provide interpretive information.
Field Validation of Chronic Toxicity TestsWith most laboratory tests the question of lab-to-field extrapolation becomes a major issue. Toxicity assessment methods for contaminated sediments have been proposed by EPA for acute toxicity, and, within a short time, chronic test methods will be made available. Field studies should be done to obtain data sets from toxicity tests and population studies obtained on the same spatial and time scales. Studies are needed especially to relate chronic toxicity tests for benthos-associated organisms to populations in the marine and freshwater environments.
Funding:Approximately $2 million is expected to be available in FY 97 for awards in this program. Proposals in the $100,000 to $150,000/year range are encouraged. Duration of awards may be up to 3 years.
EligibilityAcademic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments are eligible under all existing authorizations. Profit-making firms and other federal agencies are not eligible to receive assistance from EPA under this program.
Federal employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. However, federal agencies, national laboratories funded by federal agencies (FFRDCs), and federal employees are not eligible to receive funding through this program and may not serve in a principal leadership role on a grant. An exception may occur when the principal investigator's institution subcontracts to a federal agency to purchase unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, unique analyses not available elsewhere, etc. A written justification for such federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency which commits it to supply the specified service.
Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer in NCER, phone (202) 260-5779, EMail: email@example.com
Standard Instructions for Submitting an ApplicationThis section contains a set of special instructions related to how applicants should apply for an NCER grant under the appropriate solicitation. Proposed projects must be for research designed to advance the state of knowledge in the research areas described in this solicitation.
Sorting CodesIn order to facilitate proper assignment and review of applications, each applicant is asked to identify the topic area in which their application is to be considered. It is the responsibility of the applicant to correctly identify the proper sorting code. Failure to do so will result in an inappropriate peer review assignment. At various places within the application, applicants will be asked to identify this topic area by using the appropriate Sorting Code. The Sorting Codes correspond to the topic areas within the solicitation. The Sorting Codes and application deadlines for this solicitation are shown below:
|Topic Area||Sorting Code||Due Date|
||97-NCERQA-1A||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-1B||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-1C||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-1D||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-1E||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-1F||January 15, 1997|
|Ecosystem Indicators||97-NCERQA-2||January 22, 1997|
|Issues in Human Health Risk Assessment|
||97-NCERQA-3A||February 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-3B||February 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-3C||February 15, 1997|
|Endocrine Disruptors||97-NCERQA-4||February 15, 1997|
|Ambient Air Quality|
||97-NCERQA-5A||February 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-5B||January 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-5C||February 15, 1997|
|Health Effects of Particulate Matter||97-NCERQA-6||February 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-7A||February 15, 1997|
||97-NCERQA-7B||February 15, 1997|
|Contaminated Sediments||97-NCERQA-8||February 15, 1997|
The Sorting Code must be placed at the top of the abstract (as shown in the abstract format), in Box 10 of Standard Form 424 (as described in the section on SF424), and should also be included in the address on the package that is sent to EPA (see the section on how to apply).
The ApplicationThe initial application is made through the submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described. If it is not, the application may be rejected on administrative grounds. If an application is considered for award, (i.e., after external peer review and internal review) additional forms and other information will be requested by the Project Officer. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The Application contains the following:
- Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard
Form 424 (see attached form and instructions). This form will
act as a cover sheet for the application and should be its
first page. Instructions for completion of the SF424
are included with the form. The form must contain the original
signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution.
Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative
contactshould be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.
- Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (attached) as the second page of the submitted application.
- Abstract: The abstract is a very important document.
Prior to attending the peer review panel meetings, some of the
panelists may read only the abstract. Therefore, it is critical
that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed
and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also,
in the event of an award, the abstracts will form the basis
for an Annual Report of awards made under this program. The
abstract should include the following information:
- Sorting Code: Use the correct code that corresponds to the appropriate RFA topic. (Be sure to substitute the appropriate code for the "X" in 97-NCERQA-X).
- Title: Use the exact title as it appears in the rest of the application.
- Investigators: List the names and affiliations of each investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Start with the Principal Investigator.
- Project Summary: This should summarize: (a) the
objectives of the study (including any hypotheses
that will be tested), (b) the experimental approach
to be used (which should give an accurate description of
the project as described in the proposal), © the expected
results of the project and how it addresses the research
needs identified in the solicitation, and (d) the estimated
improvement in risk assessment or risk management that will
result from successful completion of the work proposed.
- Project Description: This description must not exceed
fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11
inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch
margins. The description must provide the following information:
- 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. This section can also include any background or introductory information that would help explain the objectives of the study (one to two pages recommended).
- Approach: Outline the methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objective stated above (five to 10 pages recommended).
- Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project and the benefits of success as they relate to the topic under which the proposal was submitted. This section should also discuss the utility of the researchproject proposed for addressing the environmental problems described in the solicitation (one to two pages recommended).
- General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc. (one to two pages recommended).
- Important Attachments: Appendices and/or other information may be included but must remain within the 15-page limit. References are in addition to the 15 pages.
- Resumes: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers should be presented. Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x 11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins for each individual.
- Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research related to that included in the proposal or which would consume the time of principal investigators. This should be done by completing the appropriate form (see attachment) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.
- Budget: The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. This budget must be in the format provided (see attachment) and not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages with 1 inch margins. Please note that institutional cost sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table. If desired, a brief statement concerning cost sharing can be added to the budget justification.
- Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation (special attention should be given to explaining the travel, equipment, and other categories). This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs were calculated. This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins.
- Quality Assurance Narrative Statement: For awards that
involve environmentally related measurements or data generation,
a quality system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC
E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems
for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology
Programs," must be inplace. This statement should not exceed
two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced
standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins. This is in addition
to the 15 pages permitted for the Project Description. The Quality
Assurance Narrative Statement should, for each item listed below,
either present the required information or provide a justification
as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research.
- The data collection activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested (reference may be made to the specific page and paragraph number in the application where this information may be found); acceptance criteria for data quality (precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability).
- The study design including sample type and location requirements and any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required.
- The procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.
- The methods that will be used to analyze samples collected, including a description of the sampling and/or analytical instruments required.
- The procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods used during the project.
- The procedures for data reduction and reporting, including description of statistical analyses to be used.
- The intended use of the data as they relate to the study objectives or hypotheses.
- The quantitative and or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project.
- Any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.
- Postcard: The Applicant must include with the application a self-addressed, stamped 3x5 inch post card. This will be used to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information to the applicant.
- Pre-proposal Procedure for the Special Opportunity in
Tropospheric Ozone: In thisone area only EPA is inviting
pre-proposals from potential applicants. These pre-proposals
will be programmatically and peer reviewed, and EPA will invite
applicants to submit a final proposal based on the review results.
Decisions on the final awards will be based on the results of
a subsequent peer and programmatic review of the final proposal
similar to that described for the other components of this program.
To facilitate consideration of final proposals, potential applicants
should submit pre-proposals in the format described below. The
pre-proposal must not exceed eight pages in total and must contain
the following information:
- Administrative information, including on the first page:
- Sorting code: use 97-NCERQA-6B
- Exact title
- Investigators: list the names and affiliations of each investigator who will significantly contribute to the study. Start with the principal investigator. Provide the address, telephone number, and EMail address of the principal investigator and the administrative contact person.
- Project description: this section should not exceed five pages and should cover in an abbreviated fashion the five areas described in paragraph D above.
- Budget: present on one page a budget which estimates the
cost of the project in the major categories (personnel,
supplies, equipment, contractual support, and indirect costs).
- Administrative information, including on the first page:
Review and SelectionAll grant applications are initially reviewed by EPA to determine their legal and administrative acceptability. Acceptable applications are then reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review group. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit. In general, each review group is composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and are proficient in the technical areas they are reviewing. The reviewers use the following criteria to help them in their reviews:
- The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the
potential contribution the proposed research could make to advance
scientific knowledge in the environmental area, the appropriateness
and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and the appropriateness
and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Narrative Statement
- The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other
staff, including knowledge of pertinent literature, experience,
and publication records as well as the probability that the
proposed research will be successfully completed
- The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment
proposed for the project
- The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs set
forth in thesolicitation
- Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as
the basis for their evaluation of 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.
A summary statement of the scientific review of the panel will be provided to each applicant. Funding decisions are the sole responsibility of EPA. Grants are selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, program balance, and budget.
How to ApplyThe original and ten (10) copies of the fully developed application and five (5) additional copies of the abstract (15 in all), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date assigned to the topic area appropriate to the application (see Sorting Codes section):
The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. The application should not be bound or stapled in any way. The original and copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips. Completed applications should be sent via regular or express mail to:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Research Division (8703)
Sorting Code: 97-NCERQA-X (replace the "X" with the appropriate code)
401 M Street, SW
Washington DC 20460
Phone: (202) 260-0563 (for express mail applications)
The sorting code must be identified in the address (as shown above). Please do not use the code 97-NCERQA-X. Proposals submitted with this sorting code will be returned to the applicant.
Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional RequirementsProposals must be submitted to only one topic area, using a single sorting code. Proposals submitted to more than one RFA topic will be assigned to the topic designated on the first version received or to the first sorting code designated on the application. If you wish to submit more than one application, you must ensure that the research proposed is significantly different from that in any other that has been submitted to this solicitation or from any other grant you are currently receiving from EPA or any other federal government agency.
Projects which contain subcontracts constituting more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant for each year in which the subcontract is awarded will be subject to special review and may require additional justification.
Researchers will be expected to budget for and participate in an annual All-Investigators Meeting with EPA scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and to discuss issues of mutual interest.
Proprietary InformationBy submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside of the Agency. Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will be returned to the applicant without review.
Funding MechanismThe funding mechanism for all awards issued under this solicitation will consist of grants from EPA and depends on the availability of funds. In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute rather than acquisition for the direct benefit of the Agency. In issuing a grant agreement, EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research funded by the grant. However, EPA will monitor research progress, based in part on annual reports provided by awardees.
ContactsAdditional general information on the grants program, forms used for applications, etc., may be obtained by exploring our Web page at <http://www.epa.gov/ncerqa>. EPA does not intend to make mass-mailings of this announcement. Information not available on the Internet may be obtained by contacting:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Center for Environmental Research (8703)
401 M Street, SW
Washington DC 20460
A contact person has been identified below for each topic within the RFA. These individuals will usually be the Project Officers for the grants funded under a particular topic. They will respond to inquires regarding the solicitation and can respond to any technical questions related to your application.
Clyde Bishop --- 202-260-5727
Barbara Levinson --- 202-260-5983
Issues in Human Health Risk Assessment
Chris Saint --- 202-260-1093
David Reese --- 202-260-7342
Ambient Air Quality
Deran Pashayan --- 202-260-2606
Health Effects and Exposures to Particulate Matter and Associated Air Pollutants
Deran Pashayan --- 202-260-2606
Sheila Rosenthal --- 202-260-7334
David Reese --- 202-260-7342