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EPA Awards $8 Million To University Of Rochester For Study Of Air Pollution Health Effects

Release Date: 12/12/2005
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(#05150) NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today an $8 million dollar grant to the University of Rochester to support a state-of-the-art research center that will advance our knowledge of how particulate matter (PM) affects human health and identify the types and sources of PM most responsible for these effects. The grant will enable researchers to investigate how fine and ultrafine particles from specific sources cause adverse cardiovascular problems, especially in high-risk groups such as diabetics and those with cardiovascular disease. The project is funded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) competitive grants program.

"The STAR grant program is a great example of how federal funds are put to use in support of the visionary work of scientists, doctors, engineers and students," said
Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. "This grant will help us continue to build a scientific foundation for reducing particle emissions and advance our progress toward cleaner air. It is a pleasure to award these funds to the University of Rochester."

William Baker, EPA Air Senior Policy Advisor was joined by Mark Utell, PM Center Associate Director at the University marking the grant award. The grant is part of $40 million dollars awarded by EPA to establish five Particulate Matter Centers throughout the nation. The other 2005 recipients were Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the University of California at Davis, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Particulate matter or PM refers to particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with a microscope. They come from a variety of sources such as cars, trucks, buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads and burning of wood. Research studies have associated exposure to elevated levels of these particles in the air with damaging health effects. More research, however, is needed to strengthen our understanding of the relationships between different sizes of PM (ultrafine, fine, coarse) and components of PM (organics, inorganics, metals) and the occurrence of adverse health effects, including premature mortality and higher instances of respiratory illness.

EPA is conducting its own research to better understand which attributes of particles may be causing these health effects and who may be most susceptible to their effects, how people are exposed to PM air pollution, how particles form in the atmosphere, and what the contributions are from various sources in the different regions of the country.

Additionally, EPA supports high-quality research by the nation's leading scientists and engineers to strengthen the basis for decisions about local and national environmental issues. The EPA's National Center for Environmental Research Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants program provides educational opportunities and motivates students to pursue environmental careers. The research conducted by EPA scientists in each of these areas is expanded by drawing on the expertise of researchers across the country through grants developed and awarded by the National Center for Environmental Research. The National Center for Environmental Research is one of five research organizations that comprise EPA's Office of Research and Development.

For more information on The National Center for Environmental Research's STAR program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/. To learn more about the University of Rochester's proposal, visit: http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/outlinks.centers/center/153