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Conference to Bring World's Leading Experts on Indoor Air Quality to Austin

The world's leading experts on indoor air quality will address topics such as how a contaminant found in dust can affect an unborn child in the womb and how the proximity of a person's car to his or her home can affect cancer risks at the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate's triennial conference in Austin, June 5-10.

The five-day conference is expected to attract more than 1,000 researchers from 50 countries whose work focuses on major challenges facing the indoor air and climate community. The conference is for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, a professional development opportunity for engineering students at The University of Texas at Austin and a showcase for Austin, which, for the first time since the conference series began in 1978, is hosting the event.

The Cockrell School of Engineering, with government agencies, private companies and indoor air associations, is sponsoring the conference and Dr. Richard Corsi, director of the Cockrell School's Indoor Environmental Science and Engineering Program, will be the event's president. The conference, held at the Austin Convention Center, is being organized by the Center for Lifelong Engineering Education at The University of Texas at Austin.

"Almost anyone around the world who does research on indoor air quality comes to this prestigious conference," said Corsi, a professor in civil, architectural and environmental engineering. "We are thrilled that the University of Texas was selected to host Indoor Air 2011 and believe that our selection is a testament to the strength of our unique building energy and environments program that we have created at UT over the past decade."

The program, which focuses on indoor environmental science and engineering, is unprecedented in the U.S. as are the laboratory facilities available to students.

Many of them, with Cockrell School faculty and staff, will present their research during the conference. The conference presentations will address everything from endocrine disrupters, a contaminant often found in dust that can harm reproductive health during fetal and infant exposures, to air quality in airplanes and offices, how the quality of indoor air impacts allergy and asthma sufferers, and new strategies and technologies for improvement of indoor air quality.

Among the event's 13 scheduled keynote speakers is Craig Venter, a biologist and entrepreneur who is most famous for his role as one of the first to sequence the human genome and for his role in creating the first cell with a synthetic genome.

Each day of the conference will feature plenary speakers who are internationally recognized in one or more of the conference's 10 major thematic research areas.

Research presentations led by University of Texas at Austin faculty:

Predicting inhalation exposure to cleaning products

We may associate cleaning products with a clean room but they are also a cause of adverse respiratory health effects ranging from irritation to asthma. However, exposure to these chemicals is poorly understood. In this study, University of Texas at Austin faculty and students developed a model that will foster an improved understanding of such exposures and help to measure them. Experiments were conducted in an environmentally controlled chamber with thermal mannequins used to simulate body positions of individuals engaged in cleaning activities. Tuesday, June 7, 1-3:05 p.m.

Does the proximity of your car to your house increase cancer risks?

Results from this research indicate that homes with attached garages are most affected by chemical emissions from gasoline, followed by homes with vehicles in carports. The study found that living in a home with an attached garage could lead to benzene exposure estimates that are an order of magnitude higher than exposures from commuting in a car in heavy traffic, with a risk of 17 excess cancers in a population of a million. Wednesday, June 8, 9:55 a.m.-noon.

Dust and its effect on pregnancy

An organic compound known as DEHP, widely used in manufacturing and found in dust in homes, can cause profound and irreversible changes in the development of the reproductive tract. A recent report by the National Academies urges that the most important sources of the pollutant's exposure be identified. Using a three-bedroom manufactured home as their test-bed, faculty have modeled how the pollutant travels into and throughout a home. Their research can be adapted to predict emissions and transport of other semi-volatile organic compounds. Friday, June 10, 8-10:05 a.m.

For more information about research that will be presented, visit the Indoor Air 2011 conference Web site.