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Extramural Research

Other Related NCER Research

Science Topics: Particulate Matter: Other Related NCER Research In addition to the PM Centers specifically established for PM research, NCER supports other PM research occurring at many of its STAR and Targeted (line item) centers established with more expansive research goals. These include the Lovelace Respiratory Institute, the Health Effects Institute, the Environmental Lung Disease Center, and several of the STAR Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research.

Health Effects Institute Health Effects Institute

HEI exit EPAis a public private partnership established to research and provide impartial information about the health effects of emissions from motor vehicles and other sources of environmental pollution. HEI receives half of its core funds from the EPA and half from twenty-eight manufacturers or marketers of motor vehicles or engines in the US.

The HEI research program has addressed many important 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.

A recent HEI report, Acute Cardiovascular Effects in Rats from Exposure to Urban Ambient Particles, by Dr. Renaud Vincent and his colleagues at Health Canada was published in December. As we move down the path of trying to understand the health effects of PM, a key question is whether different components of particles, and different sources of those components, may pose more or less of a risk. At the same time, we need to better understand what mechanisms might be causing effects. This study takes a first step in this direction by measuring the acute cardiovascular effects of four different particle mixtures, including resuspended Ottawa ambient particles and diesel soot, compared to clean air.

HEI PM Research Program

This document summarizes the thrust of the HEI PM program exit EPA over a 5 year period of 94 to 98 and encompasses 34 research projects.

HEI Publications

Recent Publications exit EPA

Airborne Particles and Health: HEI Epidemiologic Evidence (PDF) (8 pp, 313 K)

Other HEI PM related publications in review or in press:

PM related HEI completed projects:

Daily Changes in Oxygen Saturation and Pulse Rate Associated with Particulate Air Pollution and Barometric Pressure Effects of Concentrated Ambient Particles on the Cardiac and Pulmonary Systems of Dogs Effects of Concentrated Ambient Particles in Rats and Hamsters: An Exploratory Study The National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study: Methods and Methodological Issues The National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study: Morbidity and Mortality from Air Pollution in the United States Association of Particulate Matter Components with Daily Mortality and Morbidity in Urban Populations Acute Pulmonary Effects of Ultrafine Particles in Rats and Mice Identifying Subgroups of the General Population That May Be Susceptible to Short-Term Increases in Particulate Air Pollution Daily Mortality and Fine and Ultrafine Particles in Erfurt, Germany A Case-Crossover Analysis of Fine Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Out-of-Hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest Penetration of Lung Lining and Clearance of Particles Containing Benzo[a]pyrene Acute Cardiovascular Effects in Rats from Exposure to Urban Ambient Particles Genetic Differences in Induction of Acute Lung Injury and Inflammation in Mice Effects on Mice of Exposure to Ozone and Ambient Particle Pollution Emissions from Diesel and Gasoline Engines Measured in Highway Tunnels How Do Chemicals in Diesel Engine Exhaust Damage DNA? Relationship of Nitropyrene-Derived DNA Adducts to Carcinogenesis Particle Trap Effects on Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Emissions Interactive Effects of Nitropyrenes in Diesel Exhaust Comparison of the Carcinogenicity of Diesel Exhaust and Carbon Black in Rat Lungs An Investigation of DNA Damage in the Lungs of Rats Exposed to Diesel Exhaust No Evidence For Genetic Mutations Found In Lung Tumors From Rats Exposed To Diesel Exhaust or Carbon Black DNA Mutations in Rats Treated with a Carcinogen Present in Diesel Exhaust Effects of Fuel Modification and Emission Control Devices on Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Emissions

HEI Special Reports exit EPA

Periodically HEI analyzes and interprets the scientific issues pertaining to a specific environmental problem. The results of these analyses are published in HEI Special Reports.


Lovelace Respiratory Institute

The Lovelace Respiratory Institute The Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute exit EPA is a private biomedical research institute dedicated to the reduction of the nation's substantial respiratory health burden. The center aims to cure of respiratory diseases through research aimed at understanding their causes and biological mechanisms, eliminating exposures to causal agents, and developing improved treatments. It is one of the nation's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, and the nation's only such organization wholly dedicated to basic research on respiratory health problems. The Institute readily opens its unique research facilities to university, government and private collaborators. NCER supports the LRRI as a Congressional line item targeted research center. Some LRRI's of the ongoing PM related research projects are listed below:

National Environmental Respiratory Center/Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute exit EPA

The NERC's principal activity is to conduct a series of studies aimed at determining the contributions of pollution mixture constituents to the respiratory health effects of pollutant mixtures.

The initial multi-year set of studies will employ a consistent set of respiratory health assays to determine the effects of several complex, real-world, man-made air pollution mixtures. The exposure atmospheres were selected so that their similarities and differences can be used as tools to determine the roles of individual constituents, families of constituents, and combinations of constituents in causing the various health effects of the total mixture. The recommended matrix of 12 mixtures will include diesel (old and new technology) and gasoline (on-road catalyst and off-road non-catalyst) engine exhaust, wood smoke (hardwood and softwood), cooking fumes (meat and vegetable), tobacco smoke, road dust, and coal-fired power plant emissions. These atmospheres will be analyzed in much greater detail than has been typical of toxicology studies, in order to test relationships between health responses and the hundreds of individual constituents and dozens of classes of constituents. See Research Protocol Laboratory health response assays comprising five general categories of respiratory effects will be evaluated for each atmosphere, including irritation/inflammation, allergic responses/asthma, respiratory defenses, lung and heart function, and cancer. Several different laboratory health models and assays will be used to examine these effects which, in turn, encompass the key types of health responses commonly attributed to environmental air pollution

Comparative Health Hazards of Emissions from Diesel and Gasoline Engines exit EPA

This project will directly compare the toxicities of particles and semi-volatile organic emissions from representative gasoline and diesel engines. The approach is to use short-term assays of toxicity to develop a comparative toxicity ranking among the exhaust emission samples collected from engines representing specific types and usage.

Asthma Vaccine Asthma Vaccine exit EPA

Research at Lovelace, under the direction of Dr. David Bice, shows that the respiratory system can act as an immune organ separate from the rest of the body. When allergens are inhaled, some people produce allergic immune responses in their lungs resulting in asthma attacks. The vaccine will induce a protective response in the lungs instead

Genetic and Environmental Factors that Contribute to Asthma exit EPA

The major goal of Dr. Barrett's research is to understand the relative roles of both genetic and environmental factors that contribute to asthma. To accomplish this, his lab is using new and different animal models of allergy / asthma to test and develop new drugs and therapies for treatment and prevention of allergies / asthma. Areas of research that are directed toward these goals include the contribution of cigarette smoke and ultrafine particles (air pollutants). We are currently performing studies that examine the release of these allergy-associated biochemicals in the lungs of animal models after exposure to ultrafine PM. One possible effect of these exposures might be to reduce the amount of allergen needed to cause an asthma attack.


Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC) Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center (NUATRC)

The Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center exit EPA (NUATRC), located in the Texas Medical Center, was authorized by the U.S. Congress in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and incorporated in 1991. It is named after the late Congressman Mickey Leland, whose efforts on behalf of public health contributed significantly to the passage of key amendments to the Clean Air Act.

The mission of the NUATRC is to develop and support research which will yield a better understanding of the potential risks posed to human health by exposure to air toxics, as defined by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The Center's research program, developed collaboratively by scientific experts from academia, industry and government, seeks to fill the gaps in scientific data that are required to make sound environmental health public policy decisions.

NAUTRC's objectives are to study health effects in human populations exposed to air toxics; develop new approaches and methods for assessing the potential risks resulting from exposures to air toxics; and to provide sound, peer-reviewed scientific data for regulatory purposes.

Ongoing Research:

VOCs, Aldehydes and Toxic Metals. In 1997, two major projects which are investigating personal exposures to air toxics in urban environments were funded by the Center. The first project is gathering data on personal exposures to VOCs, aldehydes and air toxics metals on respirable particulates among residents of urban areas in three geographic locations. The importance of residential air exchange rates and outdoor air concentrations in estimating indoor concentrations and personal exposures to air toxics will be investigated. The second is focusing on personal exposures to urban air toxics among groups of students in two cities. The study will investigate the roles of seasonality, day-of-the-week, meteorologic conditions and activities on personal exposures to VOCs, aldehydes and metals on particles.

Toxic Metals

Because of the Center's interest in toxic metals and the known association between many of these toxic metals and fine particulate matter (PM), the Center turned its attention to the need for personal monitoring devices for fine PM. A contract was awarded to develop personal monitoring devices for fine PM that will provide continuous 24-hour sampling, separate particles by size, and be user-friendly. The long-term goal of this project is to have a device that can be used in studies to evaluate the association between exposure to toxic metals and health effects.

VOCs, Aldehydes and Toxic Metals. In 1997, two major projects which are investigating personal exposures to air toxics in urban environments were funded by the Center.

  • The first project is gathering data on personal exposures to VOCs, aldehydes and air toxics metals on respirable particulates among residents of urban areas in three geographic locations. The importance of residential air exchange rates and outdoor air concentrations in estimating indoor concentrations and personal exposures to air toxics will be investigated.
  • The second is focusing on personal exposures to urban air toxics among groups of students in two cities. The study will investigate the roles of seasonality, day-of-the-week, meteorologic conditions and activities on personal exposures to VOCs, aldehydes and metals on particles.

Human Health Effects

The Center funded its first projects focused on human health effects of air toxics in 1999. The air toxics of interest are metals associated with fine PM, and the projects are designed to investigate whether the toxic metals present in fine PM are implicated in respiratory, immunologic or cardiopulmonary responses in susceptible human populations. · The first is investigating the role of fine PM and metals in respiratory and cardiovascular responses in a cohort of boilermakers with and without chronic bronchitis. The project will be leveraged with funds from an NIH grant. The second project is examining the association between respiratory health outcomes and ambient levels of particulate air toxic metals using a seven-year time series epidemiological and source apportionment study. The project will leverage a previous EPA study.

Community-Based Programs

The Small Grants Program was designed for investigators who proposed short-term projects on exposures and/or health effects of urban air toxics. Two projects were funded in 1999 under the program. · The first study is assessing the relative contribution of outdoor sources to indoor levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban residences; evaluating the sources of indoor PAHs; and examining the factors that control or modify the indoor sources of PAHs.


Environmental Lung Disease Center National Jewish Medical and Research Center Environmental Lung Disease Center National Jewish Medical and Research Center

The objectives of the Environmental Lung Disease Center are to improve the understanding of lung disease, and develop innovative early disease detection, prevention and treatment approaches. The center's research involves: 1) determining the molecular mechanisms of environmental and occupational lung disease, 2) identifying the genetic and molecular basis for individual susceptibility, and 3) identifying the risk and effects of air pollution on human population with preexisting pulmonary diseases, and the exposure/host response relationship that leads to disease. EPA supported the Environmental Lung Disease Center as a Congressional line item or Targeted Center.

PM Related Research Projects:


(STAR) Program Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Children's Research Centers

In 1998 EPA, NIEHS, and the CDC established eight Childrens Research centers to conduct basic and applied research in combination with community-based prevention efforts. The role of these centers is to better understand the causes of environmentally induced disease among children and to eventually decrease their prevalence. These centers were established in response to the Federal Executive Order of April 21, 1997, "Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks," which charged agencies to consider special environmental risks to children in their activities. Several of these centers are performing PM related research which is summarized below:

University of Southern California

Children's Environmental Health Center University of Southern California

The focus of the University of Southern California (USC) Children's Environmental Health Center is to develop a better understanding of how host susceptibility and environmental exposures contribute to children's respiratory disease. PM related research projects include:

University of Iowa

The Etiology and Pathogenesis of Airway Disease in Children from Rural Communities University of Iowa

The University of Iowa Childrens Center's program is investigating the etiology and pathogenesis of airway disease in children from rural communities. The primary hypothesis unifying this research program is that understanding the etiology and pathogenesis of airway disease in children from rural communities will provide the scientific rationale to develop primary, secondary, and tertiary preventive programs that reduce the morbidity and mortality of asthma in the rural setting. PM related research projects are listed below:

University of Michigan

Michigan Center for the Environment & Children's Health (MCECH)

MCECH is conducting research aimed at:

  1. identifying children with asthma and assess their household, school, and neighborhood environment,
  2. increasing knowledge and behavior to reduce environmental hazards in households and neighborhoods, thereby improving asthma-related health status,
  3. examining the effects of daily and seasonal fluctuations in indoor and outdoor ambient air quality on pulmonary function and severity of asthma symptoms,
  4. determining the effects of allergen-induced local, excessive production of chemokines on redox status and innervation of the bronchial tree, and
  5. developing specific mechanisms for communication and translation of laboratory and community-based research across disciplines and to community partners. PM related research includes:

Johns Hopkins University Hospital

The Johns Hopkins University Center For The Asthmatic Child in the Urban Environment Johns Hopkins University The long term goal of the Center for the Asthmatic Child in the Urban Environment is to understand how exposures to environmental pollutants and allergens may relate to airway inflammation and respiratory morbidity in children with asthma living in the inner city of Baltimore and to develop effective strategies to reduce morbidity by changing these exposures. Related PM research at this center includes:

Columbia University School of Public Health

Columbia Center For Children's Environmental Health Columbia University The mission of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) is to undertake a comprehensive community-based assessment of environmental risks to infants and children, and to develop strategies for reducing, and ultimately preventing, those risks. The Center is responsive to the urgent health needs of the minority communities in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, which suffer uniquely high rates of asthma, adverse birth outcomes, impaired development, and other diseases. Related PM research being conducted at this center includes:

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