Research Priorities for Airborne Particulate Matter: IV. Continuing Research Progress
In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established regulatory standards to address health risks posed by inhaling tiny particles from smoke, vehicle exhaust, and other sources. At the same time, Congress and the EPA began a multimillion dollar research effort to better understand the sources of these airborne particles, the levels of exposure to people, and the ways that these particles cause disease.
To provide independent guidance to the EPA, Congress asked the National Research Council to study the relevant issues. The result was a series of four reports on the particulate-matter research program. The first two books offered a conceptual framework for a national research program, identified the 10 most critical research needs, and described the recommended timing and estimated costs of such research. The third volume began the task of assessing initial progress made in implementing the research program. This, the fourth and final volume, gauged research progress made over a 5-year period on each of the 10 research topics. The National Research Council concludes that particulate matter research has led to a better understanding of the health effects caused by tiny airborne particles. However, the EPA, in concert with other agencies, should continue research to reduce further uncertainties and inform long-term decisions.
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