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12-03-2002

Clarkson's New Research Center Uses Innovative Methods And New Technology To Study Air Pollution And Its Effects On Health And The Environment

Developing better ways to address the health and ecological effects of air pollution is the mission behind Clarkson University’s newly established Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES).

“As the statistical evidence for the relationship of deaths and other adverse health effects such as asthma to concentrations of air pollutants continue to rise, air pollution has been better recognized as a serious health problem,” said CARES director Philip K. Hopke, an internationally renowned air quality researcher and the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor in chemical engineering and chemistry at Clarkson.

“While researchers have demonstrated a correlation between airborne particles and increased death rates and illness, they typically measure only the total mass concentration of particles. However, it is unlikely that all particles have equal toxicity—some are clearly worse than others. Our interests are in developing and using better techniques to collect and identify the particulate components so we can begin to understand the chemical nature of airborne particles and their individual effects on human health.”

CARES is a founding member of the New York Environmental Quality Systems Center, a network of 12 research institutions, which recently received a $15 million grant from New York’s Office of Science and Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) to study air quality.

With the NYSTAR funding, CARES will acquire state-of-the-art instruments, enabling it to advance its expertise in air sampling, chemical analysis, receptor modeling and the application of fluid dynamics to the dispersion of airborne particles and air pollution problems. This technology, combined with new specialized temperature and humidity controlled laboratories, will offer CARES researchers greater ability to coordinate large government projects involving air monitoring and research from the Clarkson campus.

“More needs to be done to identify what proportion of the airborne particles comes from sources of given types, such as diesel trucks or coal burning power plants,” added Hopke, who is also chair of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. “Once we know what chemicals are being distributed, we can start to do correlations between clusters of health complaints, such as asthma, and the spatial distribution of the chemicals contributed by different sources.”

Clarkson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Goodarz Ahmadi has been named associate director of the center. Ahmadi is an internationally known expert in fundamental, applied and experimental fluid mechanics research. His interests include multiphase and granular flows, aerosol transport and deposition, particle and fiber adhesion and removal, surface cleaning, gas filtration, spray, micro contamination control, and base isolation of building.

CARES is part of the Clarkson Center for the Environment, an interdisciplinary center for research and education initiatives that address complicated environmental challenges. The Center was established in 2000 in order to support Clarkson's long-standing expertise in environmental engineering and to increase collaboration among faculty. The Clarkson Center for the Environment, including associated faculty from across campus, is home to Clarkson's environmental research activities; graduate and undergraduate degree programs with a focus on environmental science, policy and engineering; campus environmental initiatives; and outreach programs.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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