Vulnerable Populations Research Program

This page last reviewed May 9, 2011


The overall goal of the Vulnerable Populations Research Program (VPRP) is to provide the scientific support, through research efforts, for ARB's regulatory and non-regulatory programs that aim to protect all California residents, including those subpopulations considered especially vulnerable, from the adverse effects of air pollution. The major objectives of the VPRP are to identify susceptible subpopulations, to quantify the degree to which their health is compromised, and to characterize their exposures to air pollutants. The ARB has released the Vulnerable Populations Research Program (VPRP) 2003 Progress Report and Research Plan which presents the Air Resources Board's current activities and priorities for future activities in the implementation of this Program.

To View / Download the complete Vulnerable Populations Research Program Progress Report and Research Plan for August 2003.

The VPRP Research Plan was developed largely from the collaboration of ARB staff, the VPRP External Advisory Committee (EAC), and collaborators at local, California, and U.S. agencies. The Research Plan describes several components to be implemented. One of these components is the sponsorship of a major epidemiological study to determine the effects of different components of PM, in combination with other ambient air pollutants and environmental factors, on the natural history of asthma in young children. An other component of the Program is to assess the scope of the problem. This includes the use of readily available databases to identify statewide geographic and temporal patterns of the diseases of interest and the most affected populations. The VPRP Research Plan contains recommendations and priorities for future research activities that will fill data gaps not being addressed by other funding organizations. The VPRP Research Plan has identified 10 broad research questions with remaining data gaps regarding vulnerable populations. Note, the last two questions are being addressed through in-house work conducted by the Planning and Technical Support Division.

  1. Which populations have heightened susceptibility to air pollution and what are the factors that contribute to increased susceptibility?
  2. Which pollutants and what levels of those pollutants cause health effects? What pollutant characteristics are most responsible for the health effects?
  3. Does air pollution influence the development and progression of disease?
  4. When and where in an individual's lifetime do the most harmful exposures occur? When is a person most vulnerable to air pollution?
  5. Are health outcomes correlated with air pollution exposures?
  6. Have air pollution control programs improved air quality and health in all communities?
  7. Which communities are most impacted by air pollution? What are their cancer and non-cancer health effects?
  8. What screening methods can be used to identify the most impacted communities and individuals?
  9. What are the cumulative impacts of air pollution?
  10. What are the near-source exposures to toxic air pollutants?

Links to some of the research related to the VPRP:

F.A.C.E.S. The Fresno Asthmatic Children's Environment Study (F.A.C.E.S.) project is the first to be sponsored under the auspices of the ARB's new Vulnerable Populations Research Program. The study will examine the effect of environmental factors, including air pollution, on the progression of asthma in children in Fresno.
Environmental Justice Research As part of the Air Resources Board's active extramural research program on exposure to and health effects from air pollution, the ARB incorporates methods and objectives into planned research studies that conform to the ARB's Policies and Actions for Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice Policy VII states: "It shall be the ARB's policy to support research and data collection needed to reduce cumulative emissions, exposure, and health risks in all communities, especially low-income and minority communities." The following ARB-funded research projects contain an EJ component.

For more information about Vulnerable Populations Research, contact Dr. Barbara Weller at (916) 324-4816.