Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 9:30am – 5:00pm
Hosted by the Institute of Medicine at:
National Academy of Sciences
2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC
Free and open to the public - breakfast and lunch provided

Click here for registration and agenda
For more information, please contact Jessie Stolark at jstolark[at]eesi.org.

On April 1st, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Institute of Medicine are holding a symposium entitled The Health Effects of Fine Particles from Vehicle Emissions, which will bring together leading researchers and other experts on the sources, extent, mechanics, and health implications of ultra-fine airborne particles to discuss their origins, nature and potential health effects, and to help researchers identify remaining questions. Please join us to learn about the growing body of research that links petroleum-derived particle pollution to a variety of ever larger serious health problems and premature death. While there has been significant research into the origins and effects of larger particles, there is much less known about the nature and effects of ultra-fine particulates (UFPs).

We are now faced with invisible but pernicious air pollutants – UFPs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), derived from the incomplete combustion of aromatics (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) in vehicle fuels. UFPs are able to penetrate deeply into human lungs and pass into the bloodstream, delivering a toxic payload of PAHs. Children’s developing bodies have been found to be especially vulnerable; research in the last decade has linked these compounds to higher rates of autism, asthma, behavioral disorders, infant mortality, and cancer. Those living in the urban core are especially at risk, due to their close proximity to congested roadways and also refineries producing aromatics. As much as 40 percent of the population of the United States lives in close proximity to a major roadway.

Despite the removal of lead from the U.S. fuel supply in 1990, individuals are still needlessly exposed to toxic air pollutants contained in gasoline. Particle pollution from gasoline use in motor vehicles is caused by the use of aromatic hydrocarbons to boost octane; these compounds comprise roughly 20 percent of every gallon of fuel. The EPA has the authority, under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, to use “benign additives to replace the toxic aromatics that are now used to boost octane in gasoline,” but unfortunately, over 20 years later, gasoline still contains at least 20 percent volume of toxic aromatics. Octane boosters are needed in today’s vehicle fuels, but the necessary octane can be provided by clean-burning biofuels.