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EPA Research: June 13, 2017

PA Scientists Collaborate in Lake Michigan Ozone Study


EPA’s atmospheric scientists are using Next Generation air measurement technology to understand why there are high ozone levels along Lake Michigan's shoreline. The research supports the multi-agency Lake Michigan Ozone Study that began May 22 and will continue through June 22. 

Despite dramatic reductions in nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds needed to form ozone on hot sunny days, air pollution levels can exceed the federal air quality standards along the shore. State agencies want to understand how lake breeze circulations and atmospheric dynamics may transport ozone and ozone precursors to the shoreline. The study will provide important data for states to develop air quality plans to reduce ozone levels.

Learn more about the study.

Vulnerability Index Developed to Identify Those at Risk from Wildfire Smoke

EPA scientists developed a Community Health Vulnerability Index that can be used to help identify communities at higher health risk from wildfire smoke. Breathing smoke from a nearby wildfire is a health threat, especially for people with lung or heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure as well as older adults, and those living in communities with poverty, unemployment and other indicators of social stress.

Health officials can use the tool, in combination with air quality models, to focus public health strategies on vulnerable populations living in areas where air quality is impaired, either by wildfire smoke or other sources of pollution. The work was published in Environmental Science & Technology.

Read the journal article.

Do Our Genes Make Us More Sensitive to Air Pollution?


In a large study by EPA and Duke University, researchers identified several novel genes associated with coronary artery atherosclerosis in heart patients who have been exposed to traffic-related air pollution for a long time. Atherosclerosis results in plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. The research adds to the large body of evidence that shows the link between air pollution near roadways and cardiovascular disease. While other studies have looked at the gene-air pollution connection, this is the first to examine the entire genome and its potential to respond to emissions from traffic. The article was published in the journal PLoS One. 

Read the journal article.