Who studies pollutants in the air?

The study of pollutant transport in the atmosphere is a complex research field. It is a combination of the following sciences disciplines:

  • Environmental chemistry – the study of chemical movement in air, water, and soil and transformation in the environment
  • Analytical chemistry – very precise and accurate measurement of chemicals
  • Atmospheric science – the study of the atmosphere and where and why air moves
  • Computer Modeling – using computers to determine where and how air moves in the atmosphere
  • Biology – understanding how pollutants move into plants and animals


At the Environmental Health Sciences Center at Oregon State University, Dr. Staci Simonich studies how pollutants move in the atmosphere and are transported long distances. Her research team is trying to figure out how, why, and how much of these pollutants are moving from their original locations to remote, pristine areas such as the Arctic, mountain peaks, and National Parks. They study pollutants such as pesticides, industrial chemicals and chemicals created during combustion such as forest fires, waste burning, coal burning and vehicle emissions.

By studying the movement of these pollutants in the air and their relocation into air, soil, water, plants, animals and people in remote areas as well as global weather patterns, Dr. Simonich and her research team hope to understand the processes of pollutant transport and to answer the question, “Where did these pollutants come from?”

To read more about Dr. Simonich’s research facilities at Oregon State University, visit her lab’s webpage.