Living Downwind

Pacific Ocean breezes carry more than the smell of the sea. They transport pollutants from Asia to the United States. By collecting and testing the toxicity of particles in Northwest air samples, OSU Ph.D. student Julie Layshock is shedding light on the relative health threat posed by long-distance air pollution.

In support of her work, the Ohio native received a three-year STAR (Science to Achieve Results) Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In OSU Associate Professor Kim Anderson’s toxicology lab, Layshock analyzes the chemical composition of particles from coal and oil combustion products known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. Some types of PAHs are known to interact with DNA and thus pose a health threat. In her toxicity analyses, she is comparing particles transported from Asia with those produced locally.

Layshock plans to complete her study in 2010. She hopes to work for a government agency developing new pollution control techniques or reducing human exposure to pollutants.