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Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Turpin Joins Other Experts in Independent Review of Air Quality Standards, Urges EPA to Take Appropriate Action

In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disbanded their 26-member Particulate Matter Review Panel. Dr. Barbara Turpin, professor and chair in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a former member.

The EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to reexamine the body of scientific evidence every five years. They must determine whether the current standards for particulate matter – tiny, chemical-filled particles in the air that are harmful to humans – are protective, and set new standards if they are not. The Particulate Matter Review Panel historically provided scientific expertise on particulate matter sources, chemistry, exposures, health effects and epidemiology to assist the EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) in an external review of the work of the EPA staff.

The EPA’s dismissal of the panel left CASAC without the scientific expertise necessary to adequately ensure the integrity of their process. Seeing this need, panel members decided to re-form as the Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel out of a sense of civic duty to protect public health. The group recently submitted their report to the EPA, outlining the most recent peer-reviewed scholarly evidence and updates that suggest standard levels of particle pollution are too high and are putting the health of Americans at risk.

“Air quality standards should be based on science in order to protect the public,” says Dr. Turpin. “We show that the current standards aren’t adequate to protect health, and we make recommendations for updating those standards based on the current scientific information.”

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