Air pollution is an ever-changing mixture of many different contaminants from a variety of sources. Yet air pollution research, debate and regulation have historically focused on one pollutant or source at a time.
"Nobody ever breathed only one pollutant at a time, and it's a good bet that the health effect associated with dirty air can never really be understood by studying one pollutant at a time," says Joe Mauderly, NERC director and air pollution scientist.
In a 1998 directive, Congress designated NERC in the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The National Environmental Respiratory Center, located at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, includes as industry partners such trucking interests as the American Trucking Assns., the California Trucking Assn., Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel and Navistar. The partnership also includes the Chemical Manufacturers Assn., large companies such as Ford and Exxon, and Southern Co., the nation's largest private electric power company.
This new alliance among independent researchers, government and industry is working to reveal the effects of complex pollutant mixtures, including some contaminants for which no regulations exist. The first group of complex pollutant atmospheres to be studied over the next few years includes engine and power plant emissions.
For more information, visit the NERC web site at www.nercenter.org.