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Science Wednesday: “OnAir”: News and Views on Latest Air Science Research

2009 December 9

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

I joined the Air Team at EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research this past July. Fresh out of a dual masters program in Environmental Science and Digital Media Journalism at Columbia University, I was excited to start and, frankly, to have a job at all.

I read up on EPA extensively, but still wasn’t sure what to expect. What was EPA going to do with a science journalist?

I was thrown head first into a whirlwind of scientific papers and air quality regulations. I was stalked by a rapidly multiplying army of acronyms (Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres = ALOHA) and struggled to keep the identities of all the Barbaras in our office straight (there are at least three).

But soon I began to get a clearer picture. NCER provides funding to conduct research that health care professionals and policymakers use to protect public health. While unlimited funds would be nice, the finite allowance means having to determine what science is most critical.

As it turns out, the air research funded by NCER is pretty exciting. Results have emerged showing that air pollution increases mortality risk, air pollution exposure can lead to heart attacks, the diabetes community may be more susceptible to air pollution risks than others, and air quality improvements thus far have lengthened human lives by seven months— just to name a few.

So… why am I here?

This exciting science needs to be communicated so that folks without a PhD in atmospheric chemistry can understand these groundbreaking results. We want the research to be as transparent and accessible as possible so that everyone can understand the science behind the air they breathe.

I am beginning a tour of research labs across the country. To start, I’ll be visiting the five EPA-funded Particulate Matter (PM) Research Centers, where scientists work together across disciplines to address the health risks of air pollution. I’ll also be visiting EPA’s own scientists and labs, where innovative in-house research on air pollution is taking place.

I’ll use Science Wednesday as a venue for sharing some of what I find— interesting projects, intriguing personalities, and exciting results.

I’ve recently returned from my first visit to the Southern California Particle Center; posts from the trip are coming soon.

image of authorNext stop… Harvard.

About the Author: Becky Fried is a student contractor with EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research, part of the Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 9, 2009

    Dear Becky…. You are a FUTURISTIC STUDENT. The student who don.t care about the careers. Excuse me….., I think next time better didn’t need The Policy Makers like now. That time just needs destiny………… We just only hope, but reality maybe different. But, absolutely, the people who like you will be make the universe could be`dynamic.
    Congratulation “Dynamic Becky’s” …….!!!

  2. Jackenson Durand permalink
    December 9, 2009

    “This exciting science needs to be communicated so that folks without a PhD in atmospheric chemistry can understand these groundbreaking results.”
    In this same idea, we understand that sometimes science can not wait for this PhD to bring sons’ ideas out like a software inventor.
    Thanks to those who always want to share information’s’ Scientifics to the perspective students.

  3. Al Bannet permalink
    December 10, 2009

    That’s a fine democratic idea to explain complex scientific research in terms most citizens can undestand, but so far I haven’t seen any examples of it on this forum, just a lot of bureaucratic bragging. So, when do you intend to get started? I’d be glad to help.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    December 11, 2009

    Scientific reaserch leading to controls on air pollution and ghg gases is critical for many people, especially people with breathing problems and disabilities. Research work on clean fuels and stronger exhaust controls are key components to the overall effort. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Zac permalink
    December 11, 2009

    I hope to see you getting started on this very soon!

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