Glenn C. Morrison



Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

221 Butler-Carleton Hall

Missouri University of Science & Technology

Rolla, MO 65409

(573) 341-7192;


 Description: Description: Research group lunch 2 Feeding my research group at Alex’s Pizza (I’m a big spender…)





I’m most interested in the physics and chemistry of indoor air pollution. You’ll see statistics on many web-sites stating that indoor air quality is much worse than outdoor air quality. This is broadly true, but needs to be qualified. Some (but not all) chemical and particulate pollutants do exist at higher concentrations indoors than outdoors because they are often generated indoors. In a 1997 analysis, an EPA risk assessment group placed several indoor pollutants among the top 5 environmental health risks to North Americans. Given the human health imperative, I attempt to promote awareness of the problem in the courses I teach and the research projects I and my students work on. Check out my acting skills (such as they are) in this Public Service Announcement  produced by students at the University of Texas, Austin, IGERT program. For a comprehensive CV go here. Also, check out the activities of the Environmental Research Center. Special thanks to Honglan Shi for, against all odds, keeping the analytical instruments running in top condition!


Description: Description: F:\Documents\Pictures\Temp pics of me\IA2011_with students.jpgCOURSES I TEACH AT Missouri S&T


Introduction to Environmental Engineering

Introduction to Air Pollution

Air Pollution Control Engineering

Physico-Chemical Processes in Environmental Engineering

Indoor Air Pollution



Between June 5-10, 2011, the University of Texas, Austin hosted the biggest conference on indoor air quality of all time: the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate’s Indoor Air 2011. I was the Technical Chair, which means I was responsible for making sure the conference was full of the latest and greatest in the science of indoor air quality and comfort. I think it was a great success and am grateful to everybody involved especially Rich Corsi (president), Cath Polito (logistics and money), the staff at CLEE and all the students who made videos, chaired sessions, and helped make the conference run so smoothly!


CURRENT RESEARCH AND RELATED PROJECTS (roughly reverse chronological order)


Ozone generating in-duct air cleaners. With the state of Califorina (via their Air Resources Board), the University of Texas and the University of Tulsa, we have been studying how some air cleaners may not be so great at making indoor air of “higher quality”. These air cleaners generate ozone either intentionally or as a byproduct of the way they work. With laboratory and field research, we are showing that some of these devices are pretty good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) at raising indoor ozone levels. Ozone is NOT good for you, no matter what you hear. If you have the choice, don’t use any air cleaners that use the terms ozone, ozonation, ionizer, hydroxyl, hydroperoxy, trivalent oxygen or anything else that seems a little too good to be true. Pretty soon a report will be available on these from California.


Residences contaminated by methamphetamine labs. It goes without saying that illegal methamphetamine labs do not follow OSHA safety guidelines! Often set up in rented residences, these labs contaminate everything in the house including the materials that make up the building structure. Like a sponge, homes soak up chemicals and release them later. Even if a home is cleaned by commonly recommended methods, chemicals that have penetrated deep into the building structure can continue to seep out after a new family has moved in. We are working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)  and the University of Texas, Austin to determine how long the residence continues to be a problem and how to do a better job of protecting future residences. While this research is directed specifically to meth labs, we will learn much more and we will be able to extend the results to many other persistent chemicals such as flame retardants, pesticides and plasticizers.


Building materials as passive filters of indoor air pollution. Buildings may have the ability to remove indoor air pollutants effectively and passively (no energy required!). The US Green Building Council has awarded us a grant (2009-2010) to develop test methods that can identify materials that are effective at reducing indoor concentrations of ozone and ozone reaction products. This is a collaborative project with the UT Austin. This research builds on conceptual development presented at Healthy Buildings, Lisbon, 2006 and a more recent collaboration with the UT Austin. UT student Donna Kunkel shows that some materials are very effective at passively removing ozone in the UT test house. Ultimately these materials, if used to retrofit homes of at-risk individuals, could improve longevity and quality of life for those living in smoggy cities. Relevant journal articles: Kunkel et al., 2009.  Relevant conference papers Morrison et al., 2006 and Kunkel et al. 2008.



Description: Description: Web figure 3.JPGChemistry and transport near and on human surfaces. Since proximity to a pollutant source is as important at the source strength, we have begun evaluating pollutant dynamics and chemistry in the region around the human body, specifically the head region. We have learned that ozone flux to human hair is very fast, and that ozone reactions with human sebum will be responsible for lower ozone exposure, but also responsible for higher exposure to oxidation products such as aldehydes and ketones. Relevant journal article: Pandrangi and Morrison, 2008. Also excerpted at New Scientist, Discover  and Popular Science. Also see our collaborative work with NIOSH on squalene, a component of skin oil:  Wells et al., 2008.


Working with Atila Novoselac and Donghyun Rim of the University of Texas, Austin, we have simulated ozone and reaction product concentrations in the human breathing zone. This work demonstrates that ozone is substantially depleted in the breathing zone and that microenvironmental measurements overestimate ozone exposure. Relevant journal article: Rim, Novoselac and Morrison, Indoor Air, 2009.


Continuing to work with the fine folks at the University of Texas, Austin, (specifically Richard Corsi) we have also learned that ozone will react with fragrances (e.g. perfumes) around the head region, increasing exposure to sub-micron aerosol that are produced by these reactions. Relevant journal article: Corsi et al., 2007. Check our Rich Corsi’s head shot in National Geographic!





Description: Description: Jon and reactor.jpg

Exposure history derived from indoor surfaces. In one of my newer research projects, I am exploring the possibility of extracting indoor exposure histories for air pollutants from the building materials themselves. For example, the diffusion of benzene into vinyl flooring leaves a quantifiable concentration profile. This profile is analogous to a fuzzy photograph of the recent time-history of indoor benzene concentrations. Thus, core samples of materials such as vinyl flooring, concrete, paint, or even couch cushions can provide rich detail about the timing and intensity of indoor pollution episodes. Relevant journal article: Morrison et al., 2007.


More recently, undergraduate Jon McKinney has been tackling this problem with gusto and has developed methods to measure concentrations gradients within solid building furnishings. These measurements are the next piece of the puzzle in our goal of evaluating exposures in the past. Jon has won several research poster competitions, and won a competitive EPA GRO fellowship to support his research for the 2008-2009 school year… AND an EPA STAR graduate fellowship for his research on this topic for the 2010-2012 school years. Go Jon!





Indoor surface chemistry of terpenes. Many consumer products and personal care products release huge amounts of fragrance compounds known as terpenes and terpenoids. These compounds readily react with ozone in air, but what about surfaces? It turns out that indoor surfaces can hold onto fragrance molecules, thus providing them more time to react with ozone (if they so choose!). We are in the early stages of quantifying the fundamental reaction rates at surfaces with the goal of better understanding how air fresheners and perfumes affect indoor air quality. Relevant journal article: Wells et al. 2009. Relevant conference papers: Shu and Morrison, 2009; Springs and Morrison, 2007



Workshop on Interfacial Chemistry in Indoor Environments. In July of 2007, we put on a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the California Air Resources Board. The objectives of this workshop were to identify research needs and rank gaps in the existing knowledgebase of indoor interfacial chemistry as it relates to human exposure to air pollutants. Based on presentations and discussions, the participants identified the most fruitful short-term research courses to follow, outlined medium and long-term research goals, instigated new collaborations and identified key existing resources and necessary improvements to the existing research infrastructure. Many recommendations for future research were put forward in workshop discussions; the following summarize research priorities with notable consensus:


  1. A molecular level understanding of physical and chemical processes occurring at indoor surfaces

  2. Composition and morphology of indoor surfaces and interfaces

  3. Health consequences of indoor air/interfacial chemistry

  4. Reactions occurring at the human interface and with human residues (e.g. skin oils) and bioeffluents


A complete report with seminar topics, participants, and recommendations can be found here: WICIE 2007 workshop report  (Featured in Environmental Science and Technology, Morrison 2008).


SPECIAL THANKS TO Lucretia Eaton now in the Sponsored Programs Office!


Description: Description: nsf_work1Field evaluation of secondary pollutant emissions in homes. My National Science Foundation CAREER award is funding field research to determine the extent of ozone initiated surface chemistry in real homes. Following several homes over a period of years, this research will show whether the slow accumulation of surface oils and dirt is more important than the underlying surfaces in controlling overall secondary emissions into homes. This comprehensive five-year project includes laboratory and field chamber experiments. Small laboratory chambers are used to measure ozone induced aldehyde emission rates on representative materials from real homes. Field chambers are used to periodically isolate and test indoor surfaces in the homes themselves to examine the influence of surface aging, soiling and cleaning. Relevant journal article: Wang and Morrison, 2010; Wang and Morrison, 2006



Alkaline/acidic organic pollutant interactions with indoor surfaces. Internal funding (University of Missouri Research Board) has allowed me to pursue a study of the influence of surface pH on the surface adsorption of basic(alkaline) organic compounds such as nicotine or methamphetamine (see Meth Labs up above). Basic organic compounds can become strongly bound to surfaces by becoming protonated. However, concentrations of indoor CO2 and ammonia can vary dramatically (e.g.  when ammonia is used as a cleaning agent) and change the surface pH, thereby driving nicotine or other compounds into indoor air. Surprisingly, our research is demonstrating that competitive adsorption of ammonia may dominate over surface pH in determining the strength of adsorption of basic organic compounds. Relevant journal article: Ongwandee et al., 2005


Pollutant transport to indoor surfaces. In conjunction with my surface chemistry work, I am pursuing a better understanding of the physics of pollutant transport to and from indoor surfaces. My students and I have developed several methods for measuring indoor mass-transfer coefficients and have been applying them to real indoor settings. Using micro flux-sensors, we are able to measure transport in real-time and correlate this with indoor parameters such as ventilation rate, occupant activities, etc. The tools we have developed will allow us to generate a parameterized database of mass-transfer coefficients for use in improving indoor air quality models. Relevant journal articles: Morrison et al., 2006, Morrison and Wiseman, 2006