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New University Transportation Center focuses on the impact of emissions on public health

A new Tier-1 University Transportation Center (UTC), funded by the US Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Office of the Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R), will combine experts from two disciplines traditionally not known for research collaboration; transportation and public health.

The new Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy and Health (CAR-TEEH) will focus on the impact of transportation emissions on human health. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) leads the CAR-TEEH consortium consisting of four partner universities: Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of California, Riverside. As part of USDOT’s UTC Program, CAR-TEEH will be funded for a five-year period, at over US$11m. The head of TTI’s Environment and air quality division, Joe Zietsman, will serve as center director, and lead the CAR-TEEH project. This one-of-a-kind center will perform cutting-edge research that brings together experts in the areas of transportation emissions and public health.

The CAR-TEEH consortium will focus on transportation emissions in a more comprehensive manner, mapping the holistic tailpipe-to-lungs spectrum, which includes the impact of transportation emissions on the environment and public health. CAR-TEEH has five interrelated focus areas. The first three cover the spectrum from the transportation system with a focus on alternative and emerging technologies, to transportation emissions and energy estimation, and an understanding of emissions exposures and its associated health impacts. The next focus area deals with integration of data between these three areas. Finally, an overarching policy and decision-making focus area addresses policy implications and informs decision-making.

CAR-TEEH’s initial research programs include:
• Transportation emissions and health data hub – to addresses the need for a systematic, cross-disciplinary approach to data collection and analysis;
• Truck emissions-exposure study in ports – to study occupational health implications for truck drivers and others working and living in ports;
• Border crossing emissions impacts study – to assess the impacts of traffic-related pollution on ports of entry (POE);
• Healthy living and traffic-related air pollution in an undeserved community - to quantify exposures for residents of communities near busy roadways;
• Development and evaluation of connected vehicle application for alternative fuel trucks – to evaluate the energy and emission benefits of plug-in hybrid electric trucks over diesel units;
• Health risk characterization for transportation users - to develop a cumulative exposure and risk profile for transportation workers and system users.

“CAR-TEEH’s unique contribution is in advancing research that addresses emissions in the context of public health, by bringing together experts from two disciplines (transportation and public health) that have not traditionally worked together,” said Zietsman. “CAR-TEEH will not only serve transportation research, education, and technology transfer, but also promote interdisciplinary collaboration and communication.”

TTI agency director, Gregory Winfree, commented, “The new center will provide cutting-edge leadership in the nascent area of transportation and public health. The consortium is well-equipped to establish a UTC of strategic importance, producing high-quality, impactful research, technology transfer, education, and workforce development.”
 

March 3, 2017

Written by Adam Frost

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