Graduate Student Profile
As part of my research, my goal is to understand the cause of health effects due to the inhalation of small particles in the air, known as Particulate Matter (PM). PM is released by the burning of fuels, including wood. I am currently investigating seasonal differences on the chemical makeup and the health effects of ambient (outside/outdoor) PM, and how woodstove usage influences indoor and outdoor PM. Two PM size fractions that are known to impact human health are the coarse and the fine fraction. Coarse PM is any particle that has a diameter between 2.5 and 10 microns, and fine PM is any particle with a diameter less than 2.5 microns. Coarse fraction PM has been shown to contain a large amount of biological material, while the fine fraction particles primarily result from combustion-type processes such as wood stoves and vehicle emissions (commonly heavy in cancer causing compounds). Studies have shown that there are different mechanisms underlying the observed health effects from exposure to ambient PM between the two different size fractions, likely a function of PM size, chemical composition, and geographical location (among other factors).