Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health


Environmental, Agricultural & Occupational Health

First Committee Member

Dr. Chandran Achutan

Second Committee Member

Mrs. Miriam McCann

Third Committee Member

Dr. Lorena Baccaglini



Introduction: Employees working in universities and hospitals are faced with common and unique health and safety challenges. Usually, the campus Department of Health and Safety is tasked with reducing employee exposure through risk assessments. Purpose: In this study, we present a unique risk assessment case study related to a research project undertaken by the campus Department of Health and Safety (DHES). This project also describes the activities done by DHES to improve campus safety. We hypothesized that carbon monoxide, particulate matter, formaldehyde, and VOCs emitted from burning wood chips in a closed laboratory space will exceed regulatory and recommended exposure limits. Methods: We performed full-shift sampling to measure the indoor air quality of a laboratory that was burning wood with an electric smoker on three separate days. Sampling times varied from a duration of 2-5 hours over the three days. Area sampling with direct reading instruments was used on all three days. Passive sampling also occurred on all three days. Active sampling occurred on two out of the three days. Measurements for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity were recorded. The service learning projects included activities that integrated safety theory with practice. These included conducting risk assessments for laboratory hazards and updating the campuses’ chemical hygiene plan. Impact of the project: This study provides guidance to campus health and safety personnel on how to approach unique research protocols from a health and safety perspective. It also underscores the importance of having proper engineering controls to mitigate exposure, and the intersection of health and safety, ethical research, and compliance issues. This information will assist future health professionals in determining the feasibility of using wood smoke in research laboratories. The service learning activities will have a direct impact on the safety and well-being of students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors of UNMC and Nebraska Medicine.