AQMD funds research on health impacts of ultrafine particle pollution

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) has awarded $471,000 to the University of Southern California (USC) to study the distribution and toxicity of ultrafine particles in Southern California. Limited research shows that ultrafine particles may be more toxic and have greater health effects than the larger coarse and fine particulates (PM10 and PM2.5).
“More information is critical in determining the health effects of these smaller ultrafine particles,” said William A. Burke, Ed.D., chairman of AQMD’s governing board. “Results from this research will help form a scientific basis to focus air quality policies to reduce emissions and improve public health.”
AQMD has been actively following scientific developments in the area of ultrafine particles and in 2006 hosted a three-day conference to explore the science, technology and policy issues associated with them. For this study, “Sources, Composition, Variability and Toxicological Characteristics of Ultrafine Particles in Southern California,” researchers from USC will use samples previously collected over a 15-month period from 10 distinctly different locations across the Southland that are impacted by various particulate matter sources.
The samples were collected in conjunction with a major study funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to characterize chemical composition and toxicity of the larger PM10 and PM2.5 particles.
Results of this study are expected to provide information on the link between sources, chemical composition, and toxicity of ultrafine particles. The research will be used to build a scientific basis for use in developing strategies to protect public health.
Ultrafine particulates are generally defined as those particles with a diameter less than 0.1 micrometer.  These smaller particles have the potential to be more easily inhaled and deposited deeper into the lungs. They may also penetrate rapidly into lung tissue and other organs in the body.

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