A research team from the University of Iowa has won a nearly $900,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study air pollution. The main investigator in the study, Charles Stanier, says they are going to study the small particles that make up pollution.

Stanier says they are trying to figure out the different health effects of different types of particle, such as those that come from cars, those that come from diesel truck and coal combustion. He says they want to determine if they have different health effects on the population based on the air quality. Stanier says air quality studies now center on models that predict what the particle will do in the air, and actual monitors that sample the air.

He says they are going to try and take the strengths from each approach and combine them to try and get a better value than they can get by using either the simulation or the measurement. Stanier says the hybrid system should help the E-P-A and others who’re trying to improve air quality.

Stanier says E-P-A is interested because they want to target the specific types of particles that cause health effects, rather than try to control all particles. He says trying to control all particles causes you to spend money on particles that don’t have health effects, and you get less control over the particles that do have health effects.

Stanier says if you can figure out which particles cause problems, it is more economical to focus on those particles. The project is expected to take four years. Stanier is an assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the U-I College of Engineering.

Other U-I researchers helping on the project include: Greg Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering; R. William Field, professor of occupational and environmental health and professor in the Department of Epidemiology; Naresh Kumar, assistant professor of geography; and Jacob Oleson, assistant professor of biostatistics.