We investigate the indoor-outdoor exchange of gases and aerosols in urban residences

The spatial heterogeneity of outdoor air pollution in populous regions is well known; pollution near roadways, restaurants, and industry is greater, and communities closest to these sources often live in lower-income, older housing units. These homes often rely on opening windows to circulate air through the residence, and may not be equipped with high performance mechanical ventilation and filtration systems. Broadly, we address questions such as: how does poor outdoor air quality compounded with poor building health impact our indoor environmental quality and our ultimate chemical exposures?

Conversely, pollutants emitted in homes are vented outdoors and may impact the surrounding outdoor environment. We spend ~90% of our time indoors, and our daily activities like cooking and cleaning play a major role in determining our indoor air quality. These pollutants may ultimately be vented outdoors by natural or mechanical means. We also examine questions such as: when vented outdoors, what is the impact of our indoor activities on the outdoor environment?

Our approach involves both laboratory chamber studies and field measurements. We use a combination of online and offline mass spectrometry techniques (e.g., gas chromatography with proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry, gas chromatography with electron impact mass spectrometry) to chemically speciate emissions and their transformation products.

Current active research questions include:

  • What is the relationship between abiotic and biotic determinants of indoor air and surface composition and chemistry?
  • How does house dust chemically transform indoors and how do these transformations impact dust’s propensity to cause indoor allergies?
  • What are our indoor residential exposures to halogenated gases and particles?
  • How does the chemical speciation and concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (and their derivatives) in indoor and outdoor particles vary in different urban atmospheres?

Learn more about Jenna’s past research prior to joining Washington University in St. Louis here.