Indoors and Out: Chemistry in Houses and in Snow
Canada’s cold weather may affect more than people’s personal comfort.
Chemically, some environmental pollutants react differently in snow and ice than they do in liquid water. As a result, their health effects may be quite different in northern regions and during Canadian winters than in more temperate climates.
Dr. Tara Kahan, Canada Research Chair in Analytical Environmental Chemistry, is investigating whether pollutants react at different rates or speeds in ice than in liquid water, and whether or not different products are formed.
At the same time, she and her research team are also studying indoor air quality. Canadians spend about 90 per cent of their lives indoors, and the quality of indoor air can be very different from that of the air outdoors. Yet we lack a good understanding of the chemistry that affects air quality in houses and other indoor environments. To measure the composition of air indoors, Kahan has developed a one-of-a-kind instrument. She and her team are using it to investigate the chemistry that affects air quality in houses and vehicles.
Kahan’s research will provide important information about the effects of pollutants on the health of plants, animals and people in snow-covered regions, and will improve our understanding of the effects of chemistry on indoor air quality. The results may inform policy, pollutant remediation strategies, and building design.