Health Analysis Project
Scope of Work
The primary objective of the proposed research is to support the California Air Resources Board’s efforts to expand assessment of air pollution-related adverse health outcomes, using quantitative or qualitative methods. Research has shown that numerous health endpoints are associated with exposure to a variety of criteria pollutants, greenhouse gases, and toxic air pollutants. This proposed study will help identify and quantify, where possible, additional California-specific health outcomes associated with changes in air pollution levels related to CARB’s regulations, policies, and programs.
On April 23, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted Board Resolution 20-13[i] that directed CARB staff to do the following: to develop new quantitative and qualitative approaches for health benefit assessment that include a broader range of health outcomes; to explore and develop new methods accounting for increased vulnerability and exposures in disadvantaged communities; to update and expand methodologies to include ozone and secondary particle pollution; and to propose new approaches for evaluating additional pollutants. CARB has routinely quantified three health endpoints associated with particulate matter (PM) exposure: premature death from cardiopulmonary disease, hospitalizations for heart- and lung-related causes, and emergency room visits for asthma. The proposed research will focus specifically on adding more air pollutants and health impacts to those currently analyzed.
Scientific evidence supports the existence of additional PM-related outcomes[ii],[iii] and impacts of other criteria pollutants such as ozone[iv], as well as adverse effects of air toxics including both cancer and non-cancer effects.[v] Under this contract, the contractors will collect and/or evaluate scientific data to estimate other potential health effects to those listed above that are linked to pollution emissions and exposures in California. Additionally, the contractors will be asked to consider the increased vulnerability of individuals in impacted communities as an important consideration in evaluating health effects. For example, it is important to gain a better understanding of how health impacts may be amplified with proximity to air pollution sources, and how socioeconomic and environmental factors increase community vulnerability to pollution health effects. This research will augment the air pollution research and associated health impacts that CARB currently analyzes for its regulations, strategies and programs.
Priority areas of interest for this contract include, but are not limited to: adverse effects on the brain (e.g. neurodegenerative disease, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, or learning impairments in children and young adults); and adverse impacts on reproductive and developmental health (e.g. birth outcomes or adverse pregnancy-related outcomes). CARB is seeking research to assess these effects for criteria pollutants and, to the extent possible, air toxics. We encourage consideration of methods to evaluate economic impacts due to poor health associated with air pollution, including monetized values (actual financial costs) and/or valuations, such as willingness to pay) or other metrics representing health impacts, and their associated uncertainties.
This project will provide quantified assessment of public health impacts of additional health outcomes and air pollutants (criteria air pollutants and, where possible, air toxics), and potentially their associated economic values, as well as identification of potential qualitative health outcomes. This will in turn promote better understanding of the full scope of health and welfare protections arising from air pollution reductions brought about by California’s regulations, programs and policies. The results of this research will inform understanding of air pollution public health impacts for CARB, the greater scientific community, the general public, and residents of impacted communities. Due to the broad scope of this project, multidisciplinary teams are encouraged to apply.
Scope of Work
The proposed study should address the following objectives.
- Identify and conduct a thorough literature search on the health endpoints of interest, which may include but are not limited to: brain and/or reproductive/developmental effects;
- Identification of California-relevant health databases, cohorts, monitoring networks, emission inventories, meteorological models, other modeling approaches, etc. from which data will be acquired, along with explanation of strengths and potential shortcomings of proposed data sources;
- Identification of California-relevant pollutants and affected populations, including consideration of relevant population characteristics to help ensure that the study population is representative of California’s diverse population and impacted communities (e.g. age, racial/ethnic background, socioeconomic status (SES), pre-existing health conditions, etc.)
- Stratification of results by race, gender, and ethnicity to determine differential exposure and health impacts, and examination of how socioeconomic factors affect vulnerability, preferably including differentiation between socioeconomic impacts on vulnerability and environmental factors that increase vulnerability;
- Identification of exposure window(s)with high risk, the duration of the exposure (e.g. short- or long-term, or short high peaks repeated over time), and whether there is a threshold or linear relationship between the exposure and health impact;
- Characterize the relationship between the selected pollutants and health endpoints, along with associated uncertainty factors;
- If possible, use a design that could lead to a better understanding of the effects of multiple exposures.
- If available, characterize the economic valuation and/or other economic indicators associated with the health endpoints in question; and
- Propose concentration-response functions for the selected endpoints and pollutants to be used in health analysis tools or suggest how the characterized relationship could be used in CARB’s analysis of health impacts associated with CARB’s regulations, policies, and programs.
CARB is looking for innovative methods such as development of concentration-response functions for various health endpoints. These concentration-response functions will be used to calculate the effects of regulatory interventions. If the researchers are proposing a different method of quantifying effects, the researchers shall work with CARB staff to develop the most useful results outputs to be applied to CARB’s health analysis. Proposals shall detail the methods, data sources, and anticipated health endpoints the proposer intends to use for this analysis. The results of this study will be used to expand the number of health outcomes that CARB is able to assess in relation to changes in air pollutants brought about by CARB’s regulations, policies, and programs, thus providing a more complete picture of total effects on California’s diverse population.
Beginning this fiscal year, 2021-2022, CARB’s Research Division (RD) will require its contracted research projects to embody racial equity components. The newly instituted initiative calls for all RD contracted projects to adopt racial equity components into their research. In light of this commitment to advance racial equity in research, RD will work closely with contractors to not only increase solicitation awareness, but also find opportunities to connect researchers with non-academic partners. Moving forward, RD staff will work with multiple interested stakeholders to develop additional racial equity components that reflect the policies, programs, and interests of CARB to achieve equitable and healthy sustainable community strategies that meet California’s climate goals. The deliverables listed below include equity components.
- Quarterly progress reports and conference calls, along with public-facing updates posted to the CARB website (template will be provided);
- Consultation calls with CARB and key stakeholders;
- A draft final report; and
- A final report and in-person or virtual seminar (pending health requirements);
- Equity implication section in final report
- Incorporate community review on final report
- Encourage non-academic partners, such as non-profits or community advocates; and/or encourage academic partners new to CARB contracting and/or from smaller universities
- Inclusion of partners (investigators and/or reviewers) with an equity background in racial equity and/or environmental justice
- Peer review publications should be publicly available
- Work with CARB to create plain-language outreach deliverables
- Demonstrate that the researcher has taken implicit bias training
- Hold community meetings with interested community groups and representatives at the beginning, during, and at the end of the research project; to share the information about the study and to hear input from those stakeholders
- Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 24 months from the start date.
In order to increase transparency of how winning pre-proposals are chosen, scoring criteria have been included for each project. Please note that scoring criteria is tailored to each project included in CARB's fiscal year 2021-2022 solicitation. If you are submitting pre-proposals for more than one project in the solicitation, please be sure to review the scoring criteria to get a better understanding of what components of the project are most valued for selection.
- Responsiveness to the Goals and Objectives Outlined in the Proposal Solicitation(15 points) - Proposers should demonstrate a clear understanding of the policy objectives and research needs that CARB seeks to address with this project, and should convey their knowledge of the subject. The proposal should spell out, in adequate detail, exactly what the Proposer proposes to do to satisfy the requirements of the Solicitation. The draft proposal must propose work that would satisfy the objective(s) stated in the Research Solicitation: to help identify and quantify, where possible, additional California-specific health outcomes associated with changes in air pollution levels related to CARB’s regulations, policies, and programs.
- POLICY RELEVANCE/BENEFITS TO THE STATE(10 points) – Does the proposal describe how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to help CARB accomplish its mission? In April 2020, CARB adopted a resolution directing CARB staff to develop new approaches for health benefit assessment including a broader range of health outcomes, finding new methods accounting for increased vulnerability and exposures in disadvantaged communities, and updating/expanding methodologies to include ozone, secondary particle pollution, and additional pollutants, such as air toxics. Would the proposed project provide data that will help fulfill this resolution?
- PREVIOUS WORK (10 points) - Do the researchers have relevant experience in this area? Do they discuss how they will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other state agencies, and federal agencies such as US EPA, NSF, or NIH?
- EXPANDING EXPERTISE (10 points) – Does the team bring in new talent that has not worked with CARB previously? Is the team composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts? Do the researchers include non-academic partners or partners new to CARB contracting and/or from smaller universities?
- TECHNICAL MERIT (25 points) - Describe the submission's technical strengths and/or weaknesses. Proposers should demonstrate the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the actual work. Please factor in how well the draft proposal describes these areas:
- Are the proposed work scientifically defensible?
- Are the appropriate California-relevant data sources being considered?
- Are the selected health endpoints/air pollutants of interest to CARB?
- How likely is it that the proposed work will provide useable findings for CARB?
- Will the findings be applicable to vulnerable communities?
- Does the proposed research adequately incorporate community partners in reviewing the proposed work, its progress, and final products?
- Do the researchers have the appropriate background to conduct the proposed work?
- LEVEL AND QUALITY OF EFFORT TO BE PROVIDED(15 points) – Does the proposal allocate time and resources in such a way that the objectives of the study will be met? Is supervision and oversight adequate for ensuring that the project will remain on schedule? Is the distribution of workload appropriate for activities such as research, evaluation and analysis, data reduction, computer simulation, report preparation, meetings, and travel?
- COST EFFECTIVENESS (15 points) - Does the cost seem appropriate for the proposed work? Does the proposed work seem feasible within the requested budget? Projects that provide co-funding should be evaluated more favorably.
[i] CARB Resolution 20-13, https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/board/res/2020/res20-13.pdf
[ii] U.S. EPA 2019, Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) for Particulate Matter (Final Report, 2019). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-19/188, 2019.
[iii] Younan et al. 2020, Particulate matter and episodic memory decline mediated by early neuroanatomic markers of Alzheimer’s disease, Brain, 143: 289-302.
[iv] U.S. EPA 2020, Integrated Science Assessment for Ozone and Related Photochemical Oxidants. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA-600/R-20-012, 2020.
[v] Manisalidis et al. 2020, Environmental and health impacts of air pollution: a review, Frontiers in Public Health, 8: 1-13.