Session Number 3200

Thursday, October 29, 2020

12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Watch the program & get CEUs

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Living in a Material World: How the Surfaces Around You Affect What You Breathe

Richard L. Corsi, Ph.D., PE

Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon

About this program:

From infancy to twilight years, the air that we breathe and surfaces that we touch inside buildings have a substantial impact on our lifetime exposure to air pollution, including pollution of outdoor origin.  As such, there is value in understanding the processes that affect the sources and fate of air pollutants indoors, with a goal of manipulating these processes to improve the air that we breathe.

An important feature of indoor atmospheres is the relatively large ratio of surface area to volume of air, particularly in comparison to the same ratio for the outdoor atmosphere.  From building materials to architectural coatings, flooring to furniture, and HVAC system components to human occupants, indoor surfaces vary considerably from one another and within and between buildings.  These surfaces are sources of air pollutants and reservoirs (sinks) onto and into which pollutants deposit and persist.  They contain reaction sites that permanently remove pollutants while forming others.  Importantly, indoor materials and their surfaces are dynamic, with changes that occur over time scales of minutes to decades and that can dramatically influence surface interactions with pollutants in indoor air.

The importance of indoor materials and their impacts on indoor air quality will be explored using examples from past and ongoing research that reflect different interfacial phenomena and influencing factors. The potential for smart use of materials for improvement of indoor air quality will also be discussed as a rich topic for future research and applications.

There are materials around you that are affecting the amount and nature of pollutants that you are inhaling as you read this abstract. Get to know them.

About the Presenter:

Richard Corsi is the Dean of the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University and a professor emeritus in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) at UT.  From 2013 to 2017 I served as Department Chair of CAEE.  Prior to joining the faculty of CAEE at UT in 1994 I served on the faculty of the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, from 1990 through 1993.


His early research efforts focused on outdoor air pollution, particularly as related to cross-media contaminant transport from municipal and industrial wastewater to outdoor air.  In the late 1990s he transitioned to studying indoor air quality out of recognition of it being a fairly wide open research frontier, and because it is so important to human health; the average American lives to be 79 years old and spends 70 of those years inside of buildings, environments that dominate lifetime inhalation and dermal exposure of humans to harmful pollutants. His research on indoor air quality has focused largely on gas-phase pollutants, with some research on airborne particles.  He and his students study a wide range of issues, including source dynamics, sorption of organic contaminants to indoor materials, oxidation reactions in building air and on surfaces, and novel gas-phase pollutant control technologies.

Program Level: Basic-Intermediate

Content Area(s): Building Design & Construction (including Green), Occupant Health/Medical Issues, Investigations, Testing & Research