Projects: Introduction

Center Title: University of Washington Center for Clean Air Research (UW CCAR)

Sponsor: US Environmental Protection Agency

EPA Grant Number: RD-83479601

Investigators: Sverre Vedal (Center Director), Matt Campen, Tom Jobson, Joel Kaufman, Tim Larson, Jake McDonald, Michael Rosenfeld, Paul Sampson, Lianne Sheppard, Christopher Simpson, Adam Szpiro, Timothy VanReken, Michael Yost

Institutions: University of Washington, Seattle, WA; Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute and University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Project Period: December 1, 2010 – November 30, 2015

Project Award: $8,000,000

EPA Project Officer: Mel Peffers

RFA: Clean Air Research Centers

Research Category: Air Quality


The UW CCAR is focused on the cardiovascular health effects of near roadway pollution, a complex mixture of particle, vapor and gas phase components that vary by vehicle emission source, road surface, extent of physical aging and the type and degree of atmospheric processing and photochemical reactions. This exposure scenario is not only known to be of considerable health importance, it also serves as a prototypical case for developing research approaches to dealing with multi-pollutant exposure-effect relationships. Our aim is to integrate exposure, epidemiological, toxicological, clinical, and statistical sciences to study cardiovascular hazards of fresh and aged roadway emissions and significantly advance our understanding of the components and reaction products that cause these effects.


Investigators from four institutions are joining in a multi-disciplinary effort to study health effects of near-roadway pollution in line with current efforts to move from a single-pollutant to a multi-pollutant perspective. The Center consists of five highly integrated research projects and two facility cores (including a Biostatistics Core) that together have the following six tasks: (1) to characterize real-world near-roadway pollutant concentrations, particle size distributions and chemical composition; (2) to simulate realistic contrasting near-roadway multi-pollutant exposure atmospheres for laboratory animal and human studies; (3) to identify cardiovascular and immunologic effects and the pathogenic mechanisms of near-roadway exposures using animal models; (4) to identify cardiovascular and immunologic effects of near-roadway exposures in human clinical studies; (5) to identify effects of long-term exposure to traffic-derived particles and gases on sub-clinical measures of cardiovascular disease and DNA methylation in a multi-ethnic population; and (6) to develop a statistical and methodological framework for studying health effects of multi-pollutant mixtures.

Expected Results

The Center program of research addresses at least three of the research questions posed in the RFA:

  1. Pollutant health effects in a multi-pollutant context.
  2. Biological mechanisms underlying health effects.
  3. Exposure-response relationships. Identifying the most hazardous components of near-roadway exposures will allow more focused, coordinated and effective air pollution health policy based on sound science to reduce health impacts of this multi-pollutant exposure.

Supplemental Keywords: atherosclerosis, epidemiology, toxicology, transportation