It is maintained by the model developers and distributed by TRC. The model has been adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Guideline on Air Quality Models  as a preferred model for assessing long range transport of pollutants and their impacts on Federal Class I areas and on a case-by-case basis for certain near-field applications involving complex meteorological conditions.
The integrated modeling system consists of three main components and a set of preprocessing and postprocessing programs. The main components of the modeling system are CALMET (a diagnostic 3-dimensional meteorological model), CALPUFF (an air quality dispersion model), and CALPOST (a postprocessing package). Each of these programs has a graphical user interface (GUI). In addition to these components, there are numerous other processors that may be used to prepare geophysical (land use and terrain) data in many standard formats, meteorological data (surface, upper air, precipitation, and buoy data), and interfaces to other models such as the Penn State/NCAR Mesoscale Model (MM5), the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Eta model and the RAMS meteorological model.
The CALPUFF model is designed to simulate the dispersion of buoyant, puff or continuous point and area pollution sources as well as the dispersion of buoyant, continuous line sources. The model also includes algorithms for handling the effect of downwash by nearby buildings in the path of the pollution plumes.
The CALPUFF model was originally developed by the Sigma Research Corporation (SRC) in the late 1980s under contract with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and it was first issued in about 1990.
The Sigma Research Corporation subsequently became part of Earth Tech, Inc. After the US EPA designated CALPUFF as a preferred model in their Guideline on Air Quality Models, Earth Tech served as the designated distributor of the model.
In April 2006, ownership of the model switched from Earth Tech to the TRC Environmental Corporation. More recently ownership transferred to Exponent, who are currently (December 2015) responsible for maintaining and distributing the model.
- Turner, D.B. (1994). Workbook of atmospheric dispersion estimates: an introduction to dispersion modeling (2nd ed.). CRC Press. ISBN 1-56670-023-X. www.crcpress.com
- Beychok, M.R. (2005). Fundamentals Of Stack Gas Dispersion (4th ed.). self-published. ISBN 0-9644588-0-2.
- Breyfogle, Steve; Sue A., Ferguson (December 1996). "User Assessment of Smoke-Dispersion Models for Wildland Biomass Burning" (PDF). USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2009-02-06.