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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 16, 2008

UI engineer named to National Academy of Sciences air pollution study

Greg Carmichael, Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in the UI College of Engineering, has been named to participate in a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study on the significance of the international transport of air pollutants.

Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 21-month study, which began in July, will summarize what scientists know about air pollutants flowing into and out of the United States by looking at a variety of pollutants including ozone and its precursors, fine particles and their precursors, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants. Carmichael said that the study will be conducted in the light of environmental policy objectives related to air quality or pollutant deposition in the United States and abroad and impacts on regional and global climate change.

Basic questions to be addressed by study participants include:

--How does international transport of air pollutants affect U.S. air quality?
--How are violations of U.S. standards for ozone and fine particles affected by changes in foreign emissions?
--What is the level of confidence in pollution estimates?
--How might foreign emissions affect U.S. environmental policy objectives?
--How do air pollutants flowing from the U.S. affect other parts of the world?

"The issue of how global emissions contribute to local air quality is of growing importance," Carmichael said. "As we learn more about the health and environmental impacts of air pollution, the United States is setting more stringent air quality standards. At the same time, pollutant emissions at the global scale are growing rapidly. These factors place a growing importance on the global contributions to local air quality.

"This study will provide an assessment of how important the global contribution is today, and how we can expect it to change in the future. The study will help inform our policymakers," he said.

During the 2008 Olympics, Carmichael and colleagues at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, used unmanned aircraft to monitor the results of China's efforts to reduce pollution. He also took part in an $800,000 NASA study combining satellite observations with models to attempt to quantify the impact of Olympic emissions controls on local and regional air quality.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,