MESA Air Home


View of a city covered in smog.

The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) is designed to examine the relationship between air pollution exposures and the progression of cardiovascular disease over time. The United States Environmental Protection Agency funds the ten-year study, which involves thousands of participants, representing diverse areas of the United States. The MESA Air Pollution study is headquartered at the University of Washington, but many other institutions are also involved.

Our air pollution study builds upon the foundation created by another study, the MESA study. A different branch of the federal government, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, funds the population-based MESA study. The original MESA study began in 2000, and recruited subjects for the study of cardiovascular disease in six states – New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.

About MESA Air

Our Department received a $30 million grant to study the connection between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. The grant is the largest ever awarded by the EPA for scientific research. Dr. Joel Kaufman is the principal investigator. Read about it in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Fourteen different institutions contribute to the research effort, including: Columbia University; Johns Hopkins University; Northwestern University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Southern California; and Wake Forest University. This network of researchers across the country combine their knowledge and specific expertise to improve our understanding of how lifestyle, genetics, and environmental factors like air pollution contribute to the slow growth of cardiovascular disease in adults.

Although the ten year grant ended in 2014, with funding from sources including Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the Health Effects Institute (link here), MESA Air research continues.

The MESA Air Pollution Study Brochure, EPA 2006