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Georgia Institute of Technology Aims to Clear the Air By Improving Air Quality Modeling

Release Date: 12/08/2008
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, Marraccini.davina@epa.gov

(Atlanta, Ga. – December 3, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that the Georgia Institute of Technology (Tech) is the recipient of an $899,956 grant to improve methods of understanding the sources and effects of harmful air pollution. Tech researchers will develop a new technique to determine the sources of fine particles in the air – also known as particulate matter (PM) – that can be used to manage air quality and reduce health impacts.

Using more than 10 years of air quality and health data from Atlanta, Ga., and St. Louis, Mo., Tech researchers will estimate the human health effects of specific types of PM using models that incorporate uncertainties and sensitivities. The ultimate goal is to develop a more accurate method that can be broadly used by environmental and health professionals across the country to reduce air pollution and associated illnesses.

PM pollution is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. It’s composed of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. The sizes of particles are directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. EPA is concerned about particles 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.

EPA’s Science to Achieve Results, or STAR, program funds research grants and graduate fellowships in numerous environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. The program engages the nation’s best scientists and engineers in targeted research that complements EPA’s own outstanding research program and those of other federal agency partners.

To learn more about research grants: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/about/.