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J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2008;58(13 Suppl):S3-92.

Key scientific findings and policy- and health-relevant insights from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Particulate Matter Supersites Program and related studies: an integration and synthesis of results.

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Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, NV, USA.


In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated a major air quality program known as the Particulate Matter (PM) Supersites Program. The Supersites Program was a multiyear, $27 million air quality monitoring program consisting of eight regional air quality projects located throughout the United States, each with differing atmospheric pollution conditions resulting from variations in source emissions and meteorology. The overall goal of the program was to elucidate source-receptor relationships and atmospheric processes leading to PM accumulation on urban and regional scales; thus providing the scientific underpinning for modeling and data analysis efforts to support State Implementation Plans and more effective risk management approaches for PM. The program had three main objectives: (1) conduct methods development and evaluation, (2) characterize ambient PM, and (3) support health effects and exposure research. This paper provides a synthesis of key scientific findings from the Supersites Program and related studies. EPA developed 16 science/policy-relevant questions in conjunction with state and other federal agencies, Regional Planning Organizations, and the private sector. These questions were addressed to the extent possible, even given the vast amount of new information available from the Supersites Program, in a series of papers published as a special issue of the Journal of Air & Waste Management Association (February 2008). This synthesis also includes discussions of: (1) initial Supersites Program support for air quality management efforts in specific locations throughout the United States; (2) selected policy-relevant insights, based on atmospheric sciences findings, useful to air quality managers and decision makers planning emissions management strategies to address current and future PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and network planning and implementation; (3) selected health-relevant insights interpreted from atmospheric sciences findings in light of future directions for health and exposure scientists planning studies of the effects of PM on human health; and (4) selected knowledge gaps to guide future research. Finally, given the scope and depth of research and findings from the Supersites Program, this paper provides a reference source so readers can glean a general understanding of the overall research conducted and its policy-relevant insights. Supporting details for the results presented are available through the cited references. An annotated table of contents allows readers to easily find specific subject matter within the text.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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