In recent years, the field of aerosol science and engineering has mushroomed with applications in many industrial and environmental sectors. The University of Cincinnati has a distinguished track record in aerosol science and technology, air pollution studies, and research on various health effects associated with airborne particles and microorganisms. The faculty members and research staff involved in these research areas are internationally recognized through their extensive publications, contributions to major national and international professional committees and associations. They have received several national and international awards. Federal agencies (e.g., CDC, DHS, DOD, DOE, EPA, HUD, NSF, NIST, NIEHS, and NIOSH), international organizations (e.g., NATO) and major industries have previously sponsored or are currently sponsoring research programs in the Center for Health-Related Aerosol Studies at the University of Cincinnati.
There is a national mandate to design better generation and measurement systems for fine particles, and to understand their associated health effects. Recent studies indicate that current levels of particulate matter in urban areas lead to excessive mortality and increased hospital admissions from respiratory and cardiopulmonary disease. A strong need exists to better understand the processes that generate particulate matter and to develop technologies for the effective prevention of their formation and for the control of their emissions.
Indoor air quality studies is another area, which has been traditionally among main foci of the Center. Several large laboratory-based projects have been completed on the development of evaluation of air purification methods for indoor environments.
Special attention has recently been drawn to airborne particles of biological origin, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, pollen and their fragments. Although bioaerosols have been recognized for decades as a factor in human health, interest in the physical and biological characteristics and their linkage to health effects has sharply increased in recent years. A new research focus is the study of the synergistic effects between biological and non-biological air pollutants. Increasing public attention is given to bioaerosol contamination of indoor air environments because significant associations between exposure to indoor aeroallergens and “sick building” symptoms have been observed.
Worldwide concern continues growing about protection of workers and the general populous in the event of a major disease outbreak or a pandemic caused by an airborne infectious agent. Simple facemasks and even more sophisticated existing respirators may not provide adequate protection. The Center’s faculty and staff have been extensively involved in the development as well as the laboratory (manikin-based) and human-subject testing of respiratory protection devices challenged with surrogates of various hazardous aerosols and pathogenic bioaerosol agents.
Finally, as a result of recent developments in the biodefense and counter-terrorism sectors, there is a growing need in bioaerosol research specifically focused on the aerosolization, airborne transport and survival of highly infectious viable microorganisms or their simulants. The Center for Health Related Aerosol Studies is currently carrying out several research projects that cover the above-specified areas.