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Research on Health and Environmental Effects of Air Quality

Health Effects

Research has linked regulated air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter (PM) to lung and heart disease and other health problems. More investigation is needed to further understand the role poor air quality plays on health and disease and support development of more sustainable and integrated air quality management strategies. The research goals include:  

  • Understand the link between health effects and exposure to individual pollutants and multipollutants.
  • Develop models and methods to characterize multipollutant exposures.
  • Understand emissions, exposures and health effects to air pollutant mixtures from near sources such as highways, industry, railyards and ports and provide solutions to reduce impacts of multipollutants on local air quality.
  • Identify at-risk populations that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution.
  • Identify toxicity pathways and biological processes that lead to health effects from exposure to air pollutants and examine potential biomarkers of exposure and susceptibility to mixtures of pollutants.

Results from these investigations are used to support the nation's air quality standards under the Clean Air Act and contribute to improvements in public health.

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Environmental Effects

Many of our ecosystems are under stress from climate change and air pollution. Research is needed to understand the ecological impacts of air pollutants to support the secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. With climate change happening now, science is critical  to understanding and responding effectively to a changing climate with resiliency planning. The research goals include:

  • Determine at-risk species and ecosystems to air pollution and climate change.
  • Identify climate-sensitive stress factors, including pollutants.
  • Understand the relationship between climate change and water quality.
  • Assess vulnerabilities to ecosystems for U.S. regions and economic sectors.
  • Develop information and tools to evaluate air quality impacts on ecosystems and to mitigate climate change impacts on ecosystems.

Research discoveries will assist with the development and implementation of resiliency plans to reduce the impacts of climate change.

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