Health studies are used to establish guidelines for air quality standards, including those recommended by OEHHA and established by the California Air Resources Board. Health studies include epidemiology studies, which examine real-life exposures in human populations, and how they relate to the incidence or prevalence of disease. Together with controlled human exposure studies and toxicology studies, they form the scientific basis for our air quality standard recommendations.
OEHHA has conducted a number of epidemiological studies on the health effects of particulate matter in California, and continues work on a number of studies looking at other widespread air pollutants identified in the Clean Air Act. These studies join other studies done in California, nationally, or internationally that examine the health impacts of air pollution exposure. In addition, OEHHA conducts studies on the health effects of exposure to vehicular traffic, which is an important source of criteria and toxic air pollutants, and heat exposure, which is predicted to increase with the progression of climate change.
Our work at OEHHA has focused on a number of areas based on two legislative mandates:
1) the ascertainment of exposures most strongly linked to disease (Health and Safety Codes 425, 39606), and
2) the identification of subpopulations most vulnerable to their impacts (e.g. young children, the elderly, low socioeconomic status individuals) (Senate Bill 25, Escutia; chaptered 1999).