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New Grants to Measure Progress of Environmental Programs in Protecting Human Health

Release Date: 03/16/2009
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-4355 / ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. – March 16, 2009) EPA has awarded 10 grants totaling $5 million to universities, state departments of public health and one research institute to develop a new generation of markers or indicators that measure progress in environmental programs in protecting human health. The new projects were awarded through EPA’s Science To Achieve Results research program, and will help environmental managers evaluate the effectiveness of programs in protecting human health and the environment

“Answering questions about how changes to the environment might impact the American public are critical for protecting human health,” said Lek Kadeli, Office of Research and Development acting Assistant Administrator. “These grants support the science needed to better answer those questions and give environmental managers improved tools to evaluate their programs.”

Traditionally, environmental decision makers have evaluated success by numbers such as annual air releases, pollutant concentrations in water, or being in attainment for air quality. While these measures are useful, health outcomes data will provide a new way to determine whether a program is succeeding in reducing the incidence of environmentally-related diseases, such as asthma. The research results will inform the public and policy makers about the impact of current air quality regulations or programs and provide valuable feedback for improving regulatory or other actions.

Under one of the grants, Johns Hopkins researchers will develop state level indicators of environmental pollution, population exposure, and population health risks by applying EPA national indicators to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection population data. The University of California at Los Angeles will use its grant to combine existing environmental monitoring and health survey data to develop health outcome indicators that focus on asthma-related emergency department visits, doctor’s visits, absences from school and work, medication use, and frequency of asthma symptoms.

More information on the grants:
http://www.epa.gov/ncer/indicators