2024

May


Presto quoted on inequality of air pollution exposure
The Guardian

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted by the Guardian on how people of color are historically more likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution. “People of color are more likely to be living near an industrial area or highway, and therefore have higher exposure.


Donahue ranked on ScholarGPS
ScholarGPS

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue ranked #20 in the aerosol specialty on ScholarGPS. Highly Ranked Scholars™ are identified by career productivity levels (number of publications), as well as the quality and impact of their work.


April


Sullivan shares thoughts on fragrance products in Yahoo
Yahoo

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan shares his thoughts on fragrance products in Yahoo. Currently, the industry lacks regulations for companies to disclose the ingredients in their products, potentially exposing consumers to harmful chemicals when lighting a candle or spritzing a room with room spray. “Products can contain dozens of chemicals, and all it shows up as is one word on the ingredient list: fragrance,” he says. This story was also covered in The Guardian.


Johnson, Kim, and Stinchfield honored in NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

ChemE undergraduates Sanjay Johnson and Julie Shin Kim were selected as 2024 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellows. Ph.D. student Ali Stinchfield received an honorable mention.


March


Sey earns presentation award from AGU

MechE Ph.D. student Paa Sey was selected to receive an Outstanding Student Presentation Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) 2023 meeting. Sey, who works with MechE's Albert Presto, presented "Developing High-Resolution Particulate Matter Estimates for Africa Using Land Use Regression."


February


Sanchez earns presentation award from AMS

ChemE Ph.D. student Victor Sanchez was the 2nd place winner of the Oral Student Presentation Award at the Conference on Probability and Statistics during the American Meteorological Society (AMS) annual meeting. Sanchez, who works with ChemE's Hamish Gordon, presented "Constraining the Simulated Radiative Effects of Biomass Burning in Southern Africa."


January


Sullivan weighs in on water microdroplet chemistry
Chemistry World

MechE’s Ryan Sullivan spoke with Chemistry World about the contentious topic of water microdroplet chemistry, which has inspired mixed feelings among researchers in the field. Sullivan, for his part, is more skeptical. “Many physical atmosphere chemists who I regard as very careful experimentalists…do not think that this idea that oxidants are spontaneously being produced in microdroplets is real—they are quite convinced it’s contamination or some sort of artifact,” said Sullivan.


2023


November


Donahue comments on Kentucky train derailment fire
AP News

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue comments on a Kentucky train derailment fire in AP News. Sulfur dioxide was thought to be released during the crash, prompting the residents of Rockcastle County to be evacuated. “It is just nasty, caustic, and acidic stuff that hurts. It’s unpleasant to be in,” Donahue says. “Once the fire was put out, the threat from the chemicals was expected to diminish quickly.” Donahue was also featured in The Washington Post on the topic.


Donahue featured in podcast posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was recently featured in a podcast posted by the Royal Society of Chemistry. In the “Intro to Air Pollution” episode on the show Brought to you by chemistry,  he talks about air quality and how pollution canaffect the body. “Even in places where there have been great improvements in air quality, and I live in one, it’s still a major cause of death. And, in the developing world, it’s a really big issue,” he says.


September


Donahue comments on climate, environmental safety
ABC News

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue commented on a study that found Earth exceeds its “safe operating space for humanity” in six out of nine categories. However, Donahue said there are things that can be done to fix the problem.


Donahue comments on “climate havens”
The Hill

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue comments on “climate havens” with The Hill. Cities around the U.S. are marketing themselves as safe places from extreme climate changes; however, experts believe that no place will be immune. “It’s an absurd concept with a grain of truth,” Donahue says.


August


Donahue discusses effects of chemicals from East Palestine train derailment
AP News

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue discusses the effects of vinyl chloride and dioxins from the East Palestine train derailment with AP News. “Vinyl chloride is bad, dioxins are worse as carcinogens and that comes from burning,” he says. Recent testing indicates a low chance of dioxins being released, but environmentalists and Ohio residents are still pushing for the banning of vinyl chloride.


July


Presto collaborates on Ohio train derailment research
NBC News

MechE’s Albert Presto collaborated on new research regarding chemicals released during the Ohio train derailment, finding high levels of acrolein, a chemical known to cause lung damnage and abnormal lesions after long-term exposure. Presto calls this find “a little bit surprising” and noted the difficulty to link any one chemical to specifical health concerns.


Donahue talks smoke, air quality in Pittsburgh
The Hill

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue acknowledges Pittsburgh’s historic reputation as the “Smoky City” while discussing current air quality issues. Donahue compares recent Pittsburgh air quality levels to be “as bad as it was every now and then in 2000, and practically every day in 1974.”


Donahue explains Pittsburgh summer temperatures
The Hill

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue explains Pittsburgh’s cooler summer temperatures in an interview with The Hill. “We are close enough to the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream to get some of the moderation associated with being more coastal,” Donahue says. “We are not all that far north of the Mason-Dixon line, but we are definitely not South.”


Presto discusses health concerns of Canadian wildfires with KDKA CBS News Pittsburgh
CBS News KDKA Pittsburgh

MechE’s Albert Presto discusses the health concerns associated with the Canadian wildfires with KDKA CBS News Pittsburgh. The fires have only exacerbated the effects of the normal city air quality, including eye and lung irritation. “All the activities that contribute to that baseline that we already have are still happening. We’re still burning fossil fuels. We’re getting this wildfire smoke on top of our normal load,” he says.


Donahue talks Canada wildfire smoke with The Hill
The Hill

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue talks with The Hill about the Canada wildfire smoke and his predictions of when it will dissipate. The incoming rainfall will help flush out the particles in the air, allowing the smoke to disperse in “probably another day or two, according to the forecast,” he says.


Donahue comments on air pollution challenges
Vox

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted by Vox in a story about recent air pollution challenges. “Obviously wildfires occur in nature, but their frequency and their severity and everything else is affected by us, by human activity,” Donahue said.


Presto discusses mask efficacy for wildfire smoke and smog
MSN

MechE’s Albert Presto explains that cloth or disposable face masks may help to block some particulate matter, but it’s most likely not enough as protection for your lungs. Presto encourages people to think of masks as a “ranked order,” noting options like neck gaiters are not effective in providing protection from smoke.


Jen discusses poor air quality’s impact on health on WPXI Channel 11 News
WPXI Channel 11 News

ChemE’s Coty Jen discusses the poor air quality resulting from the Canadian wildfires and how prolonged exposure can have a serious impact on people’s health on WPXI Channel 11 News. “Basically, anything you breathe in will travel into your bloodstream. So, long-term impacts can be on anything inside your body,” Jen says.


June


Donahue talks to Delaware Valley Journal about new carbon sequestration bill
Delaware Valley Journal

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue talks to the Delaware Valley Journal about Pennsylvania’s new bill that focuses on carbon sequestration and storage as a solution for reducing carbon emissions. CO2 gas would be compressed, then stored, in underground rock formations which “have held the gas and oil (and CO2) for millions of years. So shoving new CO2 into them probably would work,” Donahue says.


Donahue discusses air pollution and health risks
Healthline

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was interviewed by Healthline on the health risks of increased particulate matter in the atmosphere due to air pollution. According to Donahue, about 100,000 deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to air pollution each year. Donahue pointed out a particular particle, PM2.5 that he says “causes more than 10% of all deaths around the world.”


Donahue quoted on wildfire emissions
Vox

ChemE/EPP’s Neil Donahue was quoted in Vox on wildfires and air pollution in the context of climate change. Donahue said that wildfires are a source of natural emissions, but they can be influenced by humans. “Obviously wildfires occur in nature, but their frequency and their severity and everything else is affected by us, by human activity,” Donahue said.


Three CMU energy projects receive Scott Institute Seed Grants
Scott Institute

Three CMU-led projects have been awarded seed funding from the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation as a part of the Seed Grants for Energy Research program.

  • EPP’s Paulina Jarmillo will collaborate with ChemE’s Hamish Gordon, CEE’s David Rounce, and EPP Head Peter Adams on their project Climate risk assessment for electricity transmission assets in the U.S.
  • MechE’s Rahul Panat and Burak Ozdoganlar will work alongside ChemE’s Grigorios Panagakos to demonstrate scalable and low-cost manufacture of porous metal-oxide-frameworks for CO2 capture.
  • Additionally, MSE’s Mohadeseh Taheri-Mousavi, Chris Pistorius, and Marc De Graef will enhance understanding of localized plasticity in pure alloys by studying H-embrittlement of high-strength structural alloys.

May


Presto quoted on Allegheny County air pollution
Pittsburgh City Paper

MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in the Pittsburgh City Paper on the impact of industrial pollution in Allegheny County in the context of regional topography. Presto said his research doesn’t always yield expected results, but the bigger picture is still clear. “Air pollution is a huge environmental injustice, right, systematically at like the national level and a local level,” Presto said.