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Research on Health and Environmental Effects of Air Quality

Health Effects

Research has linked regulated air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter (PM) to lung and heart disease and other health problems. More investigation is needed to further understand the role poor air quality plays on health and disease and support development of more sustainable and integrated air quality management strategies. The research goals include:  

  • Understand the link between health effects and exposure to individual pollutants and multipollutants.
  • Develop models and methods to characterize multipollutant exposures.
  • Understand emissions, exposures and health effects to air pollutant mixtures from near sources such as highways, industry, railyards and ports and provide solutions to reduce impacts of multipollutants on local air quality.
  • Identify at-risk populations that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution.
  • Identify toxicity pathways and biological processes that lead to health effects from exposure to air pollutants and examine potential biomarkers of exposure and susceptibility to mixtures of pollutants.

Results from these investigations are used to support the nation's air quality standards under the Clean Air Act and contribute to improvements in public health.

Related Resources 

Related Tools

  • MicroTrac Model -- Microenvironment Tracker (MicroTrac) is a model that uses global positioning system (GPS) data to estimate time of day and duration that people spend in different microenvironments (e.g., indoors and outdoors at home, work, school).
  • Health and Environmental Research Online (HERO) -- HERO is a database that provides an easy way to access and influence the scientific literature behind EPA science assessments
  • Simulation Tool Kit for Indoor Air Quality and Inhalation Exposure (IAQX) -- IAQX version 1.1 is an indoor air quality (IAQ) simulation software package that complements and supplements existing indoor air quality simulation (IAQ) programs. IAQX is for advanced users who have experience with exposure estimation, pollution control, risk assessment, and risk management. There are many sources of indoor air pollution, such as building materials, furnishings, and chemical cleaners. Since most people spend a large portion of their time indoors, it is important to be able to estimate exposure to these pollutants. IAQX helps users analyze the impact of pollutant sources and sinks, ventilation, and air cleaners. It performs conventional IAQ simulations to calculate the pollutant concentration and/or personal exposure as a function of time. It can also estimate adequate ventilation rates based on user-provided air quality criteria. This is a unique feature useful for product stewardship and risk management.
  • SMaRT Search -- This searchable inventory offers freely available models, tools, and databases from EPA's Office of Research and Development. 



  • Science Inventory is a searchable database of journal articles, reports and presentations primarily by the EPA's Office of Research and Development.  

Environmental Effects

Many of our ecosystems are under stress from climate change and air pollution. Research is needed to understand the ecological impacts of air pollutants to support the secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), which provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. With climate change happening now, science is critical  to understanding and responding effectively to a changing climate with resiliency planning. The research goals include:

  • Determine at-risk species and ecosystems to air pollution and climate change.
  • Identify climate-sensitive stress factors, including pollutants.
  • Understand the relationship between climate change and water quality.
  • Assess vulnerabilities to ecosystems for U.S. regions and economic sectors.
  • Develop information and tools to evaluate air quality impacts on ecosystems and to mitigate climate change impacts on ecosystems.

Research discoveries will assist with the development and implementation of resiliency plans to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Related Resources 

Related Tools

  • Integrated Climate and Land use Scenarios (ICLUS) -- Climate change and land-use change are global drivers of environmental change. Impact assessments frequently show that interactions between climate and land-use changes can create serious challenges for aquatic ecosystems, water quality, and air quality. Population projections to 2100 were used to model the distribution of new housing across the landscape. In addition, housing density was used to estimate changes in impervious surface cover.  A final report, datasets, the ICLUS+ Web Viewer and ArcGIS tools are available.
  • Global Change Explorer (GCX) -- GCX is a collection of web tools that visualize, compare, and provide access to spatial data that describe potential future environmental change.
  • FEST-CExit -- FEST-C is a Java-based interface system that facilitates the integration of agriculture, atmosphere, and hydrology simulations at large scales.
  • Estuary Data Mapper --EDM is a stand-alone application providing utilities for identifying, querying, visualizing, and downloading environmental geospatial and time series data for estuaries and coastal watersheds of the U.S.
  • SMaRT Search -- This searchable inventory offers freely available models, tools, and databases from EPA's Office of Research and Development. 


  • Science Inventory is a searchable database of journal articles, reports and presentations primarily by the EPA's Office of Research and Development.