Master of Science in Chemical Engineering Plan B Project Papers

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This collection contains some of the final works (Plan B project papers) produced by master's degree students in the Master of Science in Chemical Engineering graduate program. Please note that students in this program complete either a Plan A (thesis-based) program or a Plan B (project-based) program. Only Plan B project papers are included here; Plan As (theses) can be found in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Dissertations and Theses collection.

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    Dispersion of Particulate Matter and Volatile Organic Compounds in Classroom Settings and Their Health Effects
    (2022-08) Khan, Muhammad Fawad
    The topic of indoor air quality has become increasingly popular, especially in recent years with the Coronavirus outbreak. People indoors are at a much greater risk of exposure to aerosols containing various viruses and pollutants compared to outdoor settings (Park et al., 2020). In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that air pollution is as damaging to human health as smoking, leading to as many as 7 million premature deaths per year (DW, 2021). WHO further claimed in a report that 3.8 million deaths are due to household air pollution (WHO, n.d.). Because we spend more than 80% of our time indoors (Li et al., 2016), healthy indoor air quality becomes a very important issue. Common indoor air pollutants include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, various volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and different forms of particulate matter (PM) such as that from smoke (US EPA, 2015). There are many sources of these pollutants such as use of tobacco products, cooking stoves, cleaning activities, paints, adhesive products, furniture products, or even regular human activity (Chithra & Shiva, 2018; Samet et al., 2012; Tang et al., 2016). Schools are at the biggest danger of various pollutant exposures, especially if the buildings are older and ventilation systems are not well maintained. Additionally, children are at a much higher risk due to presence of developing organs, increased rate of breathing (WHO, 2018), higher metabolic rates, and smaller bodies compared to adults which results in an increase in pollutant concentrations in their bodies. Additionally, they are more likely to sniff or lick markers compared to adults. Children in the United States spend around a third of their day in school, which averages to about 7 hours per day and a total of about 180 instructional days in a school year (Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), 2008). Assuming they also graduate with a bachelor’s degree from college, this puts them at roughly 16 years of schooling. At school, children and adults are exposed to a variety of different pollutants, especially VOCs and PM. In classroom settings, VOCs can originate from many sources including markers, wooden furniture, cleaning solutions, and regular human activity such as breathing and talking (Liu et al., 2016; Mishra et al., 2015; Stopford, 2003). On the other hand, PM is more likely to come from chalk dust, cleaning activities such as dusting, and re-suspension of previously settled matter due to classroom activity (Trompetter et al., 2018). If adequate precautions are not taken, this could contribute to a major source of exposure to children throughout their lifetime. Epidemiological studies link exposure to these pollutants with various health effects, both acute and chronic. Acute hazards commonly include feelings of weakness, drowsiness, wheezing, headaches, itchiness, nausea, coughing, breathing difficulty, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long-term health effects could include neurological toxicity, asthma, and lung cancer (Annesi-