Indoor Chemical Exposures:
Humans' Non-respiratory Interactions
with Room Air

Thursday, March 18, 2010, Noon
Building 50 Auditorium
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

YouTube Video

The marked difference in pollutant concentrations between an occupied and un-occupied room are only partially explained by human bio-effluents. Humans alter levels of ozone and related oxidants such as nitrate and hydroxyl radicals in the rooms they inhabit; in effect, they change the oxidative capacity of room air. Ozone-initiated reactions on exposed skin, hair and clothing generate products, including potentially irritating chemicals whose concentrations are much higher in the occupant's breathing zone than in the core of the room.

Additionally, humans rapidly and directly sorb semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) from room air. Direct air-to-skin transport, followed by dermal absorption, can be a meaningful exposure pathway for phthalate esters, brominated flame retardants, chlorinated pesticides and other semivolatile indoor pollutants.

This talk will summarize findings from recent research which indicate that human/room-air interactions must be fully considered to properly evaluate how chemical exposures in indoor environments are impacted by various measures that increase energy efficiency in buildings.

Professor Charles J. Weschler

Professor Charles J. Weschler

International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark

Charles J. Weschler is a Professor at the School of Public Health, the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine and the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School & Rutgers University (New Jersey). He is also a Visiting Professor at the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark (DTU, Lyngby, Denmark). Prof. Weschler is widely recognized as a pioneer of indoor environmental chemistry. His groundbreaking work over the past 3 decades has contributed greatly to the current understanding of indoor pollutant exposures and consequent health effects. He is author of more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 12 articles and chapters in books, and has served on several national committees, including the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency and three National Academy of Sciences panels.

Prof. Weschler earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1974. After a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Fred Basolo at Northwestern University, he joined Bell Laboratories, where he developed a distinguished career, spearheading efforts to understand the chemistry and physics of indoor pollution. He was appointed in EOHSI in 2000 and at DTU in 2001 and held guest professorships at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the University of Kuopio (Finland), the University of Umea (Sweden) and the University of Texas at Austin (USA).