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Looking inward for pollution In his latest research, Dr. Dan Jaffe looks to the kitchen as a source for indoor pollution in the home.

Published on March 13, 2024

Sarah Dickerson cooks a farm-to-table meal for her family

Excerpted from the University of Washington- Bothell website. 

For more than 30 years, Dr. Dan Jaffe has spent his career researching outdoor air pollution and its many sources — from wildfires to fossil fuels. In recent years, however, his curiosity has shifted inward as he looks to answer the question: “How clean is our indoor air, really?”

Jaffe, a professor in the University of Washington Bothell’s School of STEM, first began thinking about indoor air quality during the 2018 wildfire season, when a staff member said they could smell smoke inside. Jaffe, too, noticed he could smell it. Together with then-student Alex Margarito (Chemistry ’19), Jaffe walked around campus with a pollution sensor.

The pair made a startling discovery: The air inside was almost as bad as the air outside.

“That really got me thinking about what to do and how to improve the air inside,” he said. “We spend most of our time indoors. We’ve put a lot of effort into looking into the air outside and much less time looking at the air inside. It turns out, there are some important sources for indoor pollution.”

In his latest research, Jaffe wanted to find out just how high the presence of some of these pollutants was inside people’s homes. He presented his findings from the study, “Impacts of Freeways, Cooking and Wildfires on Indoor Air Quality in a variety of WA households: Toward Actionable Solutions,” in a Husky Highlights Seminar Series presentation last month.

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For more than 30 years Dr. Dan Jaffe has researched outdoor air pollution. During the 2018 wildfire season he found that indoor air quality was nearly as bad as outdoor. This discovery led him to discover sources of indoor air pollution, including significant sources of pollution from cooking.
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