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Air Around Us: Science Technology and Health: CEE Spring Distinguished Lecture

This lecture features three vignettes that illustrate recent advances in knowledge about the air we breathe. First, airplanes fly through areas where high ozone levels occur naturally; exposures in the cabin raise health concerns in part owing to the volatile byproducts of ozone’s reactions with skin oils. Second, in the well-controlled environment of neonatal intensive care units, resuspension and shedding from occupants are important sources of airborne particles. Consequently, we are studying clothing as a transport vector for airborne particles, which potentially includes infectious agents. Third, state-of-the-art scientific instruments allow us to study the dynamic behavior of volatile organic compounds in ordinary spaces, including classrooms and residences. The advanced analytical capability combined with deep domain knowledge is yielding surprising new insights about the composition of the air around us.

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