Here's the latest news from AirUCI — our events, our people, our science.



Sunday, October 1, 2023

In an October 1st article in the Washington Post, AirUCI grad student Audrey Odwuor (Randerson group) is quoted on her study into the 2021 KNP fire and its destructiveness. Using a mobile laboratory, the team analyzed smoke during the fire and looked for radiocarbon signatures associated with large fuel sources. Old, large-diameter fuels like fallen logs drove the conflagration, causing it to burn at a higher intensity than other fuel sources such as pine needles or leaf litter.  Read the article

Thursday, September 28, 2023

AirUCI faculty Michael Kleinman was asked to comment on the effects of air pollution in a September 28th article for NBC News.  With the unprecedented levels of smoke from wildfires this summer, especially in the Northeast which received smoke and ash from vast Canadian fires, concern has grown over the effects of breathing this air on the lungs and heart.  Breathing in particulate matter, especially the smaller molecules, causes inflammation and irritation in the lungs, which triggers the body’s immune response, said Mike.  “This creates a cascading effect that impacts the cardiovascular system.  There is a direct link between what goes on in the lung and what goes on in the heart,” he said.  Read the article

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

AirUCI grad student Audrey Odwuor (Randerson group) took the lead on a study published in Environmental Research Letters determining that one of the chief fuels of wildfires in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is the decades-old remains of large trees. "Our findings support the idea that large-diameter fuel build-up is a strong contributor to fire severity," said Audrey.  She drove a mobile laboratory to King's Canyon National Park during the 2021 KNP Complex Fire to take measurements and samples.  These were analyzed for their radiocarbon content at UCI’s W.M. Keck Accelerator Mass Spectrometer facility with co-author and AirUCI faculty Claudia Czimczik.  "The idea is that because we can’t control the climate, we can only do our best to manage the fuels," said Audrey.  Read the article

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

In a September 27th article on, AirUCI faculty Mike Kleinman is given his own insert to say that “green” or “eco-friendly” cleaning products which are certified by third parties can still contain VOCs  However, these kinds of products are supposed to contain fewer VOCs and fewer harmful agents compared to products that have not been certified by reputable and known third-party certifiers, including GreenGuard, USDA Organic, and A Safer Choice.  Read the article

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

AirUCI faculty Annmarie Carlton is featured in a KUNC radio segment discussing how increasing wildfire smoke is cancelling out progress made in improving air quality.  “The gestalt is that wildfires in the U.S. are increasing in terms of frequency, intensity, duration, acres burned, and that's negatively impacting air quality in the United States,” said Annmarie. 

Wildfire smoke releases a tiny particulate matter called PM 2.5. It contributes to air pollution, as well as increases health risks like cancer and heart attacks.  “You can breathe (those particles) in very deeply to these little sacs at the end of your lungs called the alveoli, and that's where the blood-air exchange happens,” she said. “That's what makes this sized particle such a health hazard.”  Between 2000 and 2016, average annual PM 2.5 levels dropped in most states, largely due to advances made under the Clean Air Act. But since 2016, wildfire smoke has affected PM 2.5 trends in three-fourths of the United States. Additionally, that smoke has reversed 25% of the air quality progress made since 2000.  Hear the broadcast

Friday, September 22, 2023

AirUCI faculty Andrea Vizcaya Ruiz is quoted in a Very Well Health article about plastic food containers.  Although many are durable and can last a long time, they should be replaced regularly.  “When they show any wear, damage, or deterioration,” it’s time for them to go, Andrea said.  Single-use plastic containers, like the ones you usually get from take-out restaurants, are not intended for long-term use.  Read the article

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

AirUCI faculty Jane Baldwin is quoted in a Grist article about keeping cool as global temperatures rise.  Perspiration cools the body with differences in efficiency depending on humidity in the air.  Generally it's been observed that higher levels of  humidity, temperature, and sunlight cause greater stress to the human body.  Still, there’s debate over how much humidity matters in health outcomes — it isn’t showing up as a key driver of deaths in real-world epidemiological data as expected.  Jane recently co-authored a study exploring this discrepancy. One explanation could be that epidemiological data tends to come from cooler parts of the world, like Europe and the United States, whereas data is limited from tropical countries like India, Ghana, and Brazil, where the link between humidity and death would likely be strongest. Nailing down an answer to this question would help scientists make more accurate predictions about how climate change will affect health, Jane said.   Read the article

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

AirUCI faculty Sarah Finkeldei, as part of a collaboration with Serva Energy, Arizona State University, and the Mayo Clinic, is working to provide new synthetic pathways to medical isotopes for application in Targeted Alpha Therapies for cancer treatment.  Using UCI’s nuclear reactor, they have transformed Radium-226 (which is a nuclear waste product) to Actinium-225, a life-saving isotope used for targeted alpha therapy for certain types of cancer.  “It’s been truly rewarding to utilize UCI’s TRIGA research reactor and our nuclear chemistry laboratories to contribute to such an important application of nuclear materials,” said Sarah.  Read the article

Thursday, September 7, 2023

AirUCI graduate student Anqi Jiao (Wu group) is lead author on a new study published September 7th in JAMA Network Open showing that long- and short-term heat exposure during pregnancy is associated with increased risk for severe maternal morbidity.  Mothers with lower educational attainment and those whose pregnancies started in the cold season (November through April) had greater associations for high exposure to extreme heat days during pregnancy.  Read the article

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

AirUCI faculty Jack Brouwer has penned an opinion piece the the August 30th edition of The Hill.  He makes the case for the urgent need to employ current technology, including hydrogen, to eliminate fossil fuel combustion greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions.  Jack writes, “Congress came together to pass the bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes substantial investments in clean energy technologies. Notably, clean hydrogen received a production tax credit to empower its competition against polluting fossil fuels. Congress recognized the urgency of nurturing the clean renewable hydrogen industry, and action is required now.  Establishing infrastructure and supply chains takes time. Starting the green hydrogen industry now is essential to achieve zero emissions by mid-century, saving lives and enhancing the quality of life."  Read the article