Health Effects Institute (2005-2010)

EPA Grant Number: R832347
Center: Health Effects Institute (2005 — 2010)
Center Director: Greenbaum, Daniel S.
Title: Health Effects Institute (2005-2010)
Investigators: Greenbaum, Daniel S.
Institution: Health Effects Institute
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: April 1, 2005 through March 31, 2010
Project Amount: $18,800,000
RFA: Health Effects Institute (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Air


The Health Effects Institute (HEI) is an independent, nonprofit corporation chartered in 1980 to provide high-quality, impartial, and relevant science on the health effects of air pollution. Supported jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry, HEI has funded more than 280 research projects, the results of which have informed decisions regarding carbon monoxide, air toxics, nitrogen oxides, diesel exhaust, ozone, particulate matter, and other pollutants. These results have appeared in the peer-reviewed literature and in more than 200 comprehensive reports published by HEI.


To accomplish its mission, HEI:

  • Identifies the highest priority areas for health effects research;
  • Funds and oversees the conduct of high-quality research in these priority areas;
  • Provides intensive, independent review of HEI-supported and related research;
  • Integrates HEI’s research results with those of other institutions into coherent, broader evaluations of health effects; and
  • Communicates the results of HEI research and analyses to public and private decision makers.

The HEI research program has addressed questions about the health effects associated with exposure to both regulated pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide, and unregulated pollutants such as diesel exhaust, aldehydes, and methanol. HEI has also funded studies to understand the mechanisms of diseases, to develop better methods to assess health effects and determine dose response relationships. The program has included theoretical, in vitro, animal, controlled human exposure, and epidemiological studies. The center has conducted research in several areas, including:

  • Health effects of the Air Pollution Mixture (with a focus on PM, gases, and air toxics).
  • Emerging Technologies (including both reviewing existing exposure and health science on fuels, engines, and testing the newest technologies).
  • Measuring the Health Impacts of Air Quality Actions (accountability).
  • An Enhanced International Perspective.

These activities largely mirror and take the logical next steps on the key initiatives of HEI’s 2000–2005 plan. In addition, HEI will infuse innovation and validation throughout its program to bring into the mainstream of health risk research the latest emerging molecular biology techniques (eg, genomics, proteomics) and to continuously identify, validate, and improve state-of-the-art statistical techniques for epidemiology.

Health Effects of the Air Pollution Mixture:

Building on its efforts on PM, gases, and air toxics, HEI will complete existing projects and build new initiatives that take an increasingly integrated approach to assessing health effects of all pollutants and exposures.

Particulate Matter and Gases:

HEI will conduct several activities related to these critical air pollutants including:

  • Complete, review, and communicate results of existing studies of health effects of PM and gases, including:
    • key current studies of health effects of long-term exposure,
    • animal and human studies of diesel and other particles on allergic response, and
    • individual studies of mechanisms and health effects of pollutant components.
  • Launch a systematic, multidisciplinary program that will use toxicology, epidemiology, and exposure research to examine and compare toxicity of PM components, gases, and sources.
  • Produce new HEI Perspectives (a publication series written by the Review Committee that integrates findings across several HEI studies and related research and interprets results bearing on important and timely issues for a broad audience interested in environmental health) on topics including exposure and updated epidemiology findings.
  • Conduct an expert review of current and emerging scientific literature of health effects of exposure to traffic.

Air Toxics:

Recognizing growing interest of agencies, citizens, and others in health effects of air toxics, HEI will continue and extend efforts to assess and investigate exposure to and health effects of key compounds. These efforts will include:

  • In the near term, conducting a review and synthesis of current scientific knowledge regarding exposure to and health effects of major mobile-source air toxics.
  • Completing current studies of population exposure to air toxics in potential hot spots (areas likely to have high levels of some air toxics).
  • In confirmed hot spots, launching comprehensive studies of health effects.

Understanding Health Effects of the Mixture:

For decades scientists have grappled with the best way to assess effects of exposure to a pollutant mixture. To move beyond past efforts, HEI will convene a workshop and write and publish an expert monograph on developing and implementing innovative approaches to studying health effects of the air pollution mixture.

Emerging Technologies

In keeping with its long-standing mission to track and assess health consequences of emerging technologies and fuels, HEI will work with its Special Committee on Emerging Technology to:

  • Conduct periodic reviews of current knowledge of key technologies (eg. alternative fuels, metallic fuel additives, and other topics).
  • Launch the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES),  in collaboration with the Coordinating Research Council and partners in government, industry, and the environmental community, to test 2007 and 2010 heavy-duty diesel engines and fuels.

Measuring the Health Impacts of Air Quality Actions (Accountability)

Building on HEI Communication 11 (the accountability monograph), we will pursue efforts to improve tracking and assessment of the public health effects of actions taken to improve air quality:

  • Completion and communication of results of HEI’s initial accountability studies;
  • Outreach and support for the development of a sustainable tracking network by state public health agencies and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (who are implementing local and national health tracking systems); and
  • Major new research and methods development to assess long-term and short-term effects of domestic air quality actions on public health.

Enhanced International Perspective
HEI’s initial efforts to bring high-quality and impartial science to bear on international air quality decisions have begun to mature into a modest but sustainable program with added funds from new public, industry, and government sponsors. In the next five years HEI will continue this focused program in international science by:

  • Applying the best science from throughout the world to inform US decisions, for example by completing the Air Pollution and Health: a combined European and North American approach project (APHENA) to test the latest statistical approaches and undertaking other key long-term and dose–response studies.
  • Continuing, with additional resources, the Public Health and Air Pollution in Asia program (PAPA) to build the capacity of Asian scientists to produce rigorous local health effects studies to inform decisions and to begin to target possible links among air pollution, health, and poverty.
  • Conducting limited capacity building with health scientists in other parts of the world (eg Latin America). One important element of these modest efforts will be regular communication to HEI’s current sponsors of key health and regulatory developments in these international settings.

Cross-Cutting Issues
HEI will attempt to integrate into its programs certain cross-cutting issues, especially health effects of air pollution on two possibly susceptible populations:

  • The growing number of elderly in the US population;
  • Children (including possible developmental effects after mothers are exposed during pregnancy).

In bringing these cross-cutting issues into its program, HEI hopes to attract a wide range of medical and population health experts who can help place effects of air pollution into the broader context of health issues facing these group.

Expected Results:

The center is conducting research in a number of priority areas, including: new approaches to understanding exposure to and health effect of multiple pollutants including particulate matter, gases, and air toxics; measuring health outcomes and benefits resulting from air quality actions; and assessing potential health consequences of new fuels and technology. Throughout its research HEI seeks to incorporate effects on sensitive subpopulations, development and validation of new scientific techniques, and providing public access to the data underlying its studies.

Supplemental Keywords:

Health Effects, long-term exposure, particulate matter, PM, air pollution mixture, emerging technologies, diesel exhaust, allergic response, toxicology, epidemiology, genomics, proteomics, Air Toxics, susceptible populations, elderly, children;

Relevant Websites:

Health Effects Institute: April 1, 2000 through March 31, 2005
Health Effects Institute: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2015
Research Centers - Health Effects Institute Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final Report
  • Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R832347C135 Mechanisms of Particulate Matter Toxicity in Neonatal and Young Adult Rat Lungs
    R832347C136 Uptake and Inflammatory Effects of Nanoparticles in a Human Vascular Endothelial Cell Line
    R832347C138 Health Effects of Real-World Exposure to Diesel Exhaust in Persons with Asthma
    R832347C140 Extended Follow-Up and Spatial Analysis of the American Cancer Society Study Linking Particulate Air Pollution and Mortality
    R832347C141 Air Pollution Effects on Ventricular Repolarization
    R832347C143 Measurement and Modeling of Exposure to Selected Air Toxics for Health Effects Studies and Verification by Biomarkers
    R832347C144 Genotoxicity of 1,3-Butadiene and Its Epoxy Intermediates
    R832347C145 Effects of Concentrated Ambient Particles and Diesel Emissions on Rat Airways
    R832347C147 Atmospheric Transformation of Diesel Emissions