database served as one basis for identifying research results that have been published over the years of the committee’s consideration and for assessing the extent to which important scientific uncertainties have been reduced.
The committee specifically did not evaluate the EPA-funded PM Research Centers Program, because some of its members are involved in the centers. However, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) completed an evaluation of the centers in 2002 (EPASAB 2002). The SAB report concluded that the centers program has and will likely continue to produce benefits beyond those that would come from individual investigator-initiated research. It also stated that the research centers offered a number of advantages, including flexibility and adaptability in pursuing PM research, ability to foster a multidisciplinary approach from a study’s inception, and ability to leverage additional resources. The SAB report also said the centers offered the possibility of undertaking research on methods development, validation, and pilot studies that are often difficult to finance by individual investigators. The SAB report concluded that the PM centers program merits continuation beyond its expiration in fiscal year 2004—through a new, fully competitive round of applications—as one part of a diverse PM research portfolio at EPA. The SAB report recommended that an overarching mechanism be developed to provide scientific advice across all the centers. It also recommended enhanced interactions among the centers and ongoing intensive air quality monitoring efforts. In addition, the report recommended a continued focus of the centers’ efforts on the most critical PM research needs identified by this committee and EPA. The SAB report also emphasized the importance of ensuring that the work of the centers does not become isolated from that of other researchers within EPA and in the academic community.
In Chapter 2, the committee discusses its approach for evaluating PM research progress. Chapter 3 provides a synthesis of PM research progress in each of the 10 topics in the research portfolio since 1997. Detailed assessments of progress for each research topic are presented in Appendix C. Chapter 4 provides an integration of progress made across the research topics, and Chapter 5 identifies key, overarching scientific challenges for the years ahead in completing the research portfolio on PM. Chapter 6 provides guidance on key management issues that the committee expects to be relevant for successfully addressing key priorities for PM research in the future, and Chapter 7 provides an overall synthesis and conclusions.