Final Report: Health Effects Institute (2010-2015)

EPA Grant Number: R834677
Center: Health Effects Institute (2005 — 2010)
Center Director: Greenbaum, Daniel S.
Title: Health Effects Institute (2010-2015)
Investigators: Greenbaum, Daniel S.
Institution: Health Effects Institute (HEI)
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2015
Project Amount: $25,000,000
RFA: Health Effects Institute (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Health Effects , Air Quality and Air Toxics , Air


 This project involved targeted strategic research in four key areas:

  • Multipollutant Exposure, Epidemiology, and Toxicology Research
  • Emerging Technologies and Fuels
  • Health Outcomes of Air Quality Improvements (Accountability)
  • An International Perspective 

HEI also proposed to infuse several cross-cutting issues throughout its efforts from 2010 – 2015, including sensitive populations, enhanced statistical techniques, use of new methods in toxicity testing, and enhanced public access to data. 

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):


HEI published 37 full Research Reports and 6 Special Reports, Perspectives, and Communications on these priority topics. The key findings are summarized below.

Multipollutant Exposure, Epidemiology, and Toxicology Research

The National Particle Component Toxicity (NPACT) Initiative, a systematic, multidisciplinary program that used coordinated toxicology, epidemiology and exposure research to examine and compare toxicity of particulate matter (PM) components, gases and sources. Taken together, the NPACT studies found associations of secondary sulfate and, to a somewhat lesser extent, traffic sources with health effects. The HEI NPACT Review Panel concluded, however, that the studies do not provide compelling evidence that any specific source, component, or size class of PM may be excluded as a possible contributor to PM toxicity.
A thorough literature review of emissions, exposure, and health effects of ultrafine particles (HEI Perspective 3) concluded that, while there have been a growing number of laboratory and field studies of the effects of ultrafine particles (UFPs), “toxicologic studies in animals, controlled human exposure studies, and epidemiologic studies to date have not provided consistent findings on the effects of exposures to ambient levels of UFPs, particularly in human populations. The current evidence does not support a conclusion that exposures to UFPs alone can account in substantial ways for the adverse effects that have been associated with other ambient pollutants such as PM2.5.” 
HEI-funded investigators completed controlled ozone exposures for close to 90 older adults as part of its MOSES project to evaluate the effects of low concentrations of ozone on cardiovascular health outcomes.
HEI initiated and completed the analysis for three innovative studies designed to develop new statistical techniques for multiple pollutants analysis, and then attempting to apply those techniques in existing data sets to test their strengths and limitations.
HEI conducted a multi-expert workshop in follow up to HEI’s earlier traffic and health special report, and initiated new studies of enhanced traffic exposure assessment. 
Emerging Technologies and Fuels
The Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) is a multi stakeholder project to provide emissions and health testing of new technology diesel engines. ACES showed that emissions standards were met, and even exceeded, reducing PM and other emissions by more than 90% relative to previous engine technologies without the appearance of unexpected new, toxic compounds. Laboratory rats exposed for their lifetime (up to 30 months) to the 2007-compliant engine emissions showed some lung inflammation and other mild health effects consistent with NO2 exposure, but did not show any evidence of tumor formation or pre-carcinogenic effects, in contrast to previous animal studies of chronic exposure to exhaust from “traditional,” pre-2007 technology diesel engines.
A report from the Scientific Committee on Emerging Technologies (HEI Communication 16) reviews in detail a host of new technologies and fuels, from improved internal combustion engines, to hybrid and other electric drive technologies, to existing and new bio- and other types of fuels. The Future of Vehicle Fuels and Technologies: Anticipating Health Benefits and Challenges identifies a number of potential unintended health consequences that could arise from use of these fuels and technologies and they need further investigation.
Health Outcomes of Air Quality Improvements (Accountability)
Key studies funded under HEI’s accountability program to evaluate the effectiveness of air quality regulations in improving public health, including actions addressing traffic congestion, wood stove replacements, coal bans, and other actions:
  • A study of coal bans in Ireland found clear decreases in black smoke concentrations, particularly during the heating season, after each ban. Respiratory mortality decreased significantly in the aftermath of the bans (confirming an earlier study). However, unlike the earlier study, the current study did not find a reduction in total or cardiovascular mortality after the bans. The study demonstrates the importance—and challenges—of disentangling the effects of an intervention from those of other social and economic factors that also might influence long-term trends in health.
  • A study in Beijing provided important supporting evidence that air quality improvements such as those found during the Beijing Olympic Games can improve health biomarkers, with the potential for beneficial health effects in the affected population. 
  • A study in London represented a creative effort to explore a subtle change in air quality associated with a complex intervention to reduce traffic congestion. Although the investigators were unable to demonstrate a clear effect of the Congestion Charging Scheme either on individual air pollutant levels or on oxidative potential of particulate matter, this study offers many lessons for future studies of interventions that are expected to influence air quality. 
An International Perspective 
With support from foundations and other agencies, HEI published a comprehensive review of outdoor air pollution and health in Asia (Special Report 18). HEI also conducted a pan-European workshop co-organized with the European Commission and the World Health Organization (with U.S. EPA, industry, and non-governmental organization [NGO] involvement) and companion HEI-led briefing for the European Parliament on “Understanding the Health Effects of Air Pollution” designed to inform regulatory decision making in Brussels. HEI also led the air pollution analysis in the newest Global Burden of Disease update (2010), including calculating highly influential and widely reported analyses of estimates for China and India.

Journal Articles: 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other center views: All 69 publications 62 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Greenbaum D, Shaikh R. First steps toward multipollutant science for air quality decisions. Epidemiology 2010;21(2):195-197. R834677 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: LWW-Full Text HTML
  • Other: LWW-Full Text PDF
  • Journal Article Meng Q, Hackfeld LC, Hodge RP, Walker VE. Comparison of mutagenicity of stereochemical forms of 1,2,3,4-diepoxybutane at HPRT and TK loci in human cells. Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis 2003;41(36 Supplement):77. R834677C150 (Final)
    not available
    Journal Article Meng Q, Redetzke DL, Hackfeld LC, Hodge RP, Walker DM, Walker VE. Mutagenicity of stereochemical configurations of 1,2-epoxybutene and 1,2:3,4-diepoxybutane in human lymphoblastoid cells. Chemico-Biological Interactions 2007;166(1-3):207-218. R834677C150 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: ScienceDirect-Abstract
  • Journal Article van Erp AM, Kelly FJ, Demerjian KL, Pope III CA, Cohen AJ. Progress in research to assess the effectiveness of air quality interventions towards improving public health. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health 2012;5(2):217-230. R834677 (Final)
  • Abstract: Springer-Abstract
  • Journal Article van Erp AM, Cohen AJ, Shaikh R, O’Keefe R. Recent progress and challenges in assessing the effectiveness of air quality interventions toward improving public health: the HEI experience. EM Magazine 2012;10:22-28. R834677 (Final)
  • Full-text: EM Magazine-Full Text PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    air pollution, health effects, particulate matter, ozone, air toxics, diesel, fuels, fuel technologies, accountability, traffic 

    Relevant Websites:

    Data Access sites:
    Air Quality Data: http://hei.aer.comExit
    RIOPA Data website: http://riopa.aer.comExit
    Global Burden of Disease:

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2010 Progress Report
  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • 2013 Progress Report
  • Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R834677C149 Development and Application of a Sensitive Method to Determine Concentrations of Acrolein and Other Carbonyls in Ambient Air
    R834677C150 Mutagenicity of Stereochemical Configurations of 1,3-Butadiene Epoxy Metabolites in Human Cells
    R834677C151 Biologic Effects of Inhaled Diesel Exhaust in Young and Old Mice: A Pilot Project
    R834677C152 Evaluating Heterogeneity in Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution Using Land-Use Regression and Constrained Factor Analysis
    R834677C153 Improved Source Apportionment and Speciation of Low-Volume Particulate Matter Samples
    R834677C155 The Impact of the Congestion Charging Scheme on Air Quality in London
    R834677C156 Concentrations of Air Toxics in Motor Vehicle-Dominated Environments
    R834677C158 Air Toxics Exposure from Vehicle Emissions at a U.S. Border Crossing: Buffalo Peace Bridge Study
    R834677C159 Role of Neprilysin in Airway Inflammation Induced by Diesel Exhaust Emissions
    R834677C160 Personal and Ambient Exposures to Air Toxics in Camden, New Jersey
    R834677C162 Assessing the Impact of a Wood Stove Replacement Program on Air Quality and Children’s Health
    R834677C163 The London Low Emission Zone Baseline Study
    R834677C165 Effects of Controlled Exposure to Diesel Exhaust in Allergic Asthmatic Individuals
    R834677C168 Evaluating the Effects of Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments on Air Quality
    R834677C172 Potential Air Toxics Hot Spots in Truck Terminals and Cabs
    R834677C173 Detection and Characterization of Nanoparticles from Motor Vehicles
    R834677C174 Cardiorespiratory Biomarker Responses in Healthy Young Adults to Drastic Air Quality Changes Surrounding the 2008 Beijing Olympics