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Shane Canaday's Poster Wins First Prize at Environmental Risk and Decision Making Symposium

Shane Canaday

Shane Canaday, a second-year graduate student working under the direction of Professor Gavin Edwards, was awarded the $500 first prize in the Poster Competition at the Environment Risk and Decision Making Symposium, sponsored by the Environmental Science and Policy program at Michigan State University.  The symposium was held October 10, 2014 and symposium attendants came from nine different schools, and both private and government sectors.  Shane's award winning poster is pictured at the right and a synopsis of his work is presented below.

Modeling of Volatile Organic Compounds Emission from Materials Used in Passenger Vehicle Interiors.

            While the vast majority of us are aware of the tailpipe emissions from automobiles, we have a much weaker understanding of the emissions happening inside the vehicles we drive. The interiors of these vehicles consist primarily of plastics, glues, fabrics, and other materials capable of emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC emissions are most prevalent after manufacturing, resulting in the “new car smell”.  These VOCs have been shown to cause eye and nasal irritations, while some are classified as carcinogens.1,2 Previous VOC emission models have been produced, but models tailored to the complex environment of the passenger vehicle have not yet been created. Our goal is to create an accurate vehicle interior VOC emission model.

            When building our model, we decided to keep it simple. In order to do so, we constructed programs to model emission data from a polymer film that was placed into a small environmental test chamber. So far, two models have been created. One model predicts emission from a chamber with air flowing through it. The other model predicts emissions with no airflow. Results have shown high correlations between emission data and our models. Accounting for changes in airflow is just one of the many conditions that need to be addressed when attempting to model VOC emissions from vehicle interiors. In the next few months, we hope to receive emission data from Ford that will allow us to start addressing more complexities of the passenger vehicle interior.


1. Chien, Y.-C. Variations in Amounts and Potential Sources of Volatile Organic Chemicals in New Cars. Sci. Total Environ. 2007, 382, 228–239.

2. Xiong, J.; Liu, C.; Zhang, Y. A General Analytical Model for Formaldehyde and VOC Emission/Sorption in Single-Layer Building Materials and Its Application in Determining the Characteristic Parameters. Atmos. Environ. 2012, 47, 288–294.

- Posted 11/21/14

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