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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Awards $400,000 to University of Illinois for Research to Improve Air-Quality Models

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Ben Weiss (

Urbana-Champaign, Ill. (July 9, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $399,469 in research funding to the University of Illinois to improve air-quality models.   Specifically, the research supported by this grant will improve the component of models that represent how chemicals react in the atmosphere (known as “chemical mechanisms”). 

“EPA supports the university’s innovative research to improve air quality models,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “This work is vital to improving our knowledge of pollutants in the air and will enable us to take better-informed actions to improve air quality and enhance public health.”

“We congratulate Professor Tessum on receiving this funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for standards and laws promoting the health of U.S. citizens and the environment,” said Susan A. Martinis, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation. “Air quality is a critical factor in human health and well-being. The advanced capabilities that will be developed in this project promise to enhance air quality modeling capabilities and enable better decision-making by states, municipalities, and tribal agencies, improving health outcomes and quality of life.”

The project, “Machine-Learned Atmospheric Chemical Mechanisms,” will improve the computational efficiency of chemical mechanisms using machine-learning algorithms, without sacrificing accuracy.  This will reduce the computational expense of air-quality modeling for regulatory impact assessment, allowing a wider range of stakeholders to take advantage of the technology and streamlining the process of modeling air pollution. 

Nine grants totaling almost $6 million were awarded to institutions through the EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program for research to improve air quality models used to simulate ozone, particulate matter (PM), regional haze air toxics, and emerging pollutants. 

For more information on EPA’s STAR recipients visit: