Distinguished Lecture Series: Charles Weschler — Indoor Chemical Exposures: Humans' Non-respiratory Interactions with Room Air
March 18, 2010
Professor Charles J. Weschler
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.