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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Anne Steinemann
PB AF 599
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Study and analysis of special topics in public affairs. Topics vary each quarter depending on curricular needs and interests of students and faculty.

Class description

SPECIAL TOPICS: ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS, EXPOSURES, AND HEALTH - Identify sources of everyday exposures to pollutants, and understand the science, health, and policy implications. Students evaluate their home and work environments, and implement strategies to reduce exposures and health risks.

Most of our exposure to pollutants occurs not from traditional sources, such as hazardous waste sites, but rather from sources that are close to us and within our control, such as consumer products, building materials, and other indoor sources. Further, these primary sources of pollutants are virtually unregulated, and toxic chemicals are not typically disclosed on labels, making it difficult for the public to understand and reduce risks. Even “organic,” “green,” and “non-toxic” claims on products can be misleading, and these products often contain similar levels of hazardous chemicals as the “regular” versions. Everyday exposures can cause a range of adverse health effects, such as headaches and breathing difficulties. Yet health can be often be improved by reducing the sources of exposures. Addressing these issues requires understanding not only science and technology, but also economics, health, and policy.

This new course will investigate the sources and consequences of everyday exposures to pollutants, including new and emerging contaminants, and will provide practical approaches and methods for assessment and remediation. Students will conduct individual assessments of their home and work environments, and implement strategies to remedy and reduce exposures. Results can both improve human health and productivity, and reduce impacts on the environment.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Open to all graduate students and upper-division undergraduate students!

Class assignments and grading

The course will include readings, case studies, and projects. Topics include: • Everyday and potentially hazardous pollutant exposures: what are they, how do they occur, how can they be assessed, and what can we do about it? • Analyzing and improving water and air quality. • Common pollutants in your home, office, school, car, and other environments. • Designing “green buildings,” and remedying “sick buildings” • Policies and laws that address exposures to pollutants. • Personal exposure inventory. • Health and economic effects of indoor air quality. • Nanotechnology, and policy implications. • Emerging contaminants in environmental systems.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Blake N Cooper
Date: 01/16/2009