These projects are being coordinated with other research activities currently underway and planned to study the health effects associated with exposure to these pollutants.
"EPA relies on the best and latest science to protect public health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "These grants will help research centers provide valuable information about the pollutants that create soot so that we can fully protect public health."
The seven grant recipients are University of California, Washington University, University of Texas, UCCSN/Desert Research Institute, State University of New York, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland.
According to EPA, this grant program is part of the "Supersites" monitoring program. These new monitoring sites will generate more useful information than current monitoring technology about air quality samples.
This improved data will help EPA and the research centers develop techniques for pinpointing the sources, formation and travel of fine particulate matter.
"The program also aims to identify the components of particulate pollution that are most important to health so that we can develop more cost effect control strategies and increase protection of public health," said EPA.
Fine particle pollution is primarily a by-product of combustion from sources such as power plants, industry boilers, incinerators and diesel-powered engines.
Fine particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs and may cause a number of health problems, including increased respiratory disease, impaired lung function and premature death.