U.S. EPA Awards over $780,000 to CE-CERT to Advance Research Related to Air Quality


News Release from Region 9

“LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant of $784,743 to the University of California Riverside to advance research in understanding sources of air pollution from less studied sources such as wildland fires.

“California’s universities have well-earned reputations as leaders in science, engineering and research,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We are pleased to support UC Riverside’s scientific efforts and work toward innovative ideas that will help protect human health and the environment.”

The project—titled ‘Scalable Chemical Mechanisms of Emerging Sources for Community Air Quality Predictions’—is focused on sources of pollution, such as wildland fires and volatile chemical products, and how the chemical mechanisms of such sources can be accounted for in air quality models.

“This award represents an exciting opportunity to build on the UCR/CE-CERT legacy of developing chemical mechanisms to represent the behavior of pollutants in the atmosphere, while addressing the current needs of our communities to represent a broader range of pollutant sources and to predict the air quality impacts of these sources across a wide range of environmental conditions and spatiotemporal scales,” said Associate Professor Kelley Barsanti of UC Riverside’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering.

Research supported by these grants will improve air quality models, specifically the ability of models to represent how chemicals react in the atmosphere to form pollutants (known as “chemical mechanisms”). This research will advance our understanding of the sources and chemistry of air pollutants and how that affects lifetime in the atmosphere. It will also inform the development of strategies for improving air quality.

UC Riverside is among nine universities nationwide awarded almost $6 million by the EPA to improve air quality models used to simulate ozone, particulate matter (PM), regional haze, air toxics, and emerging pollutants.”

More about the Scalable Chemical Mechanisms of Emerging Sources for Community Air Quality Predictions project

With significant decreases in major emissions sources across the United States, the attention has shifted to less studied sources of pollutants such as wildland fires and volatile consumer products. Wildland fires are important to better understand because they can emit high levels of trace gases, organic compounds, and primary particulate matter, all of which have implications for climate change and public health. New chemical mechanisms, which are essential elements of air quality models (AQM) used in both research and regulatory applications, are needed to better predict the impact of these sources.

Currently, most chemical mechanisms have been simplified so that only a limited number of pathways, intermediates, and products are considered when applied in AQMs. These approaches were developed during a time in which extreme ozone (O3) formation events under high nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels were of primary concern. Advances in emissions control technologies and successful regulatory and mitigation have succeeded in shifting our atmosphere to a regime in which atmospheric chemistry under lower NOx levels have become increasingly important, multipollutant predictions at lower concentrations are required, and new sources of pollutants are emerging. Therefore, it is important that these chemical mechanisms be re-evaluated, updated, and be made available for the entire scientific community to support continued research and results.