UW Professor Chairs EPA Panel to Review Nitrogen Oxides Standards

Lianne Sheppard from the University of Washington School of Public Health was selected to chair a 17-member committee that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on air quality standards for oxides of nitrogen. Sheppard is a professor of biostatistics and environmental and occupational health sciences.

Nitrogen oxides come primarily from traffic emissions. Nitrogen monoxide is formed from high-temperature combustion and reacts to oxygen in the air to form nitrogen dioxide. The current standard for nitrogen dioxide limits its concentration in the air to no more than 100 parts per billion within a single hour.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to determine standards for pollutants considered or suspected to be harmful to public health and the environment. The EPA reviews the criteria for these standards every five years, and adjusts and sets new standards accordingly.

Sheppard sits on the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee; its members are appointed by the EPA administrator for three-year terms. She and the others on the committee provide independent advice to the administrator on the scientific evidence to support the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards, including this one on nitrogen oxides.

“Professionally, I think this is one of the most important things I do; it has the most direct impact on public health,” said Sheppard.

Timothy Larson and Joel Kaufman, also professors in the University of Washington School of Public Health, are among the members of the panel chaired by Sheppard.