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Understanding the Relationships between Air Pollution Levels and Human Health Outcomes
RAO, S. T., P. Porter, D. MOBLEY, AND B. HUBBELL. Understanding the Relationships between Air Pollution Levels and Human Health Outcomes. EM: AIR AND WASTE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION'S MAGAZINE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGERS. Air & Waste Management Association, Pittsburgh, PA, November 2011:6-7, (2011).
The National Exposure Research Laboratory′s (NERL) Human Exposure and Atmospheric Sciences Division (HEASD) conducts research in support of EPA′s mission to protect human health and the environment. HEASD′s research program supports Goal 1 (Clean Air) and Goal 4 (Healthy People) of EPA′s strategic plan. More specifically, our division conducts research to characterize the movement of pollutants from the source to contact with humans. Our multidisciplinary research program produces Methods, Measurements, and Models to identify relationships between and characterize processes that link source emissions, environmental concentrations, human exposures, and target-tissue dose. The impact of these tools is improved regulatory programs and policies for EPA.
As mandated by the CAA, EPA established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants and conducts periodic review of the NAAQS to assess if they need to be revised. The CAA then provides for implementation of the NAAQS based on a combination of local controls determined by the states and EPA-determined national-scale programs to address regional pollution sources. In this regard, EPA uses the risk paradigm in examining if there is a problem (risk assessment) and developing a mitigation strategy (risk management), if needed. Accountability, whereby the agency evaluates whether regulatory programs have produced intended benefits to human health and the environment, closes the air quality management loop. By way of example, EPA recently examined the impact of its Nitrogen Oxides [NOx] SIP Call on emissions, ambient ozone concentrations, and health outcomes. A recent article reported that life expectancy at birth in the United States has increased by at least six months because of the improvement in ambient air quality stemming from the implementation of the CAA. This issue of EM is intended to foster better communication between the health and atmospheric science communities by improving our understanding of the relationships between air pollution and human health. During the past four decades, EPA has made substantial progress in improving the nation’s air quality, even in the presence of economic and population growth. Despite positive outcomes from EPA’s regulatory actions, however, air pollution continues to be a major issue for vulnerable populations. An assessment of the public health burden in the United States of levels of ozone and fine particles reported that at least 130,000 premature deaths in 2005 were attributable to air pollution. EPA and state agencies are continuing field studies that address air pollution and associated health issues and the health community perseveres in its search for better methods to discern pollutant-health relationships. Other new research efforts are underway to better understand the nature of the urban air pollution mixtures typically found in U.S. metropolitan areas, and how differences in those mixtures contribute to heterogeneity in health responses to air pollution.
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Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY
ATMOSPHERIC MODELING AND ANALYSIS DIVISION