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Research Accomplishments

Research Accomplishments

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Refining Industry Control Technology

We now know that some of the technologies developed to reduce certain air pollutants may actually increase other pollutants in the process. EPA research has shown that there are alternative ways to control air particles and other emissions, including greenhouse gases.

Understanding Ammonia Emissions and Deposition

Ammonia released from animal production facilities can damage nearby plant and aquatic ecosystems. EPA research has provided critical information about how ammonia is released and deposited. The findings have been used to create a new computer model to study ammonia in the atmosphere.

Assessing Aircraft Engine Impacts

Commercial aircraft could be a major source of air pollution, but there is a lack of data about what is released from their engines. EPA has led research efforts to understand and characterize emissions from this potentially significant source.

Advancing Source Measurement and Characterization

Some sources of air pollution, like ships and fuel storage facilities, are extremely difficult to measure with conventional techniques. But it is necessary to measure their emissions in order to meet air quality standards. EPA has developed an optical remote sensing method and other innovative techniques that offer new ways to measure and characterize these elusive sources.

Outdoor Concentrations

Woman joggingIt is crucial to understand outdoor air pollution concentrations to manage air quality and reduce human exposure.

Measuring Air Pollutants

To understand the status of pollutants across the country, we must ensure the integrity and consistency of air pollution measurements. EPA has developed and tested new measurement techniques for pollution particles of various sizes. The novel tools developed by EPA are now available to researchers and air quality managers nationwide.

Understanding the Transformation of Air Pollutants

When pollution particles and gases are released into the atmosphere, they dilute and interact with sunlight. In the process they can change and sometimes even transform into new particles. EPA research is at the forefront of understanding these potentially harmful new particles and the reactions that cause them to form. EPA has developed sunlight-mimicking laboratory chambers and other new modeling tools to study how air pollutants transform.

Estimating Changes in Air Quality

Air quality simulation models are used to predict how future air policies would play out in the real world. EPA continually updates its various atmospheric and exposure models. One atmospheric model can simulate how several pollutants interact in the atmosphere, making the predictions more accurate and efficient. EPA has also supported research to incorporate the effects of climate change into new models.

Exposure and Health

Doctor and patientEPA is at the forefront of research investigating how people are exposed to air pollution and the potential health effects of this exposure.

Reducing Air Pollution Lengthens Lives

Reducing air pollution helps people live healthier and longer lives. A new, comprehensive study shows that the average American now lives five months longer because of air pollution reductions over the past 20 years. Combined with other EPA studies, this affirms that decades of air pollution reduction efforts have substantially improved human lives.

Linking Traffic Pollution to Health Effects

Research at EPA has shown that among many air pollution sources, particles from traffic exhaust may be especially harmful. One component of traffic exhaust, very small, ultrafine particles, can leave the lung to interact with blood and the cardiovascular system. These findings suggest that living or working near a busy road could cause health problems.

Identifying At-risk Populations

EPA has been a leader in the discovery of populations that may be at the highest risk for air pollution effects. New research shows that hospital admissions for air pollution-related heart problems, respiratory deaths and stroke deaths are twice as likely in individuals with diabetes. Other studies show that differences in genetic make-up may explain why some people are more susceptible to air pollutants than others.

Improving Pollution Exposure Characterization

Epidemiology studies of air pollution and health effects have often relied on a single monitor to measure an entire community's exposure to air pollutants. EPA research has helped identify crucial differences between what these community-based monitors measure and what people are really breathing. This has led to better, more accurate assessments of health effects associated with air pollution.

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