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Evaluation of Trace Volatile Organic Compounds in Built Microenvironments
Mentor: Dr. Alan Rossner
Department: Institute for a Sustainable Environment

Sustainable building design is necessarily to minimize the impact on our environment. To receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a building must receive credits for sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, as well as indoor air quality. Therefore evaluating the indoor air quality becomes an integral part of sustainable design. To that end, I have directed my research in areas that minimize people’s exposure to contaminants, improve working conditions, improve living conditions and minimize risk of disease. A continuing challenge in environmental health sciences is that of accurately estimating an individual’s long-term exposure to the multitude of contaminants found in our work and community environments. These challenges are further magnified by the constant influx of new chemicals and new processes into our living and working environments. Research into improved exposure assessment strategies and air sampling methodologies that better characterize individuals’ exposures are necessary to further our understanding of the health effects related to airborne contaminants. My current research projects encompass three areas: 1) The development of air sampling methodologies, 2) Exposure assessment strategies for occupational and community air sampling, and 3) Indoor/outdoor air contaminant monitoring. An REU student could explore several projects currently ongoing in my lab associated with the above categories. Examples of projects include the development of a new air and surface sampling devices, a comparative assessment of the Indoor air quality of LEED certified buildings versus and none LEED building. In addition, we are currently studying several techniques to examine the emission profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the surface of various building materials.