Department of Public Health Sciences

Deborah H. Bennett

bennett largeAssociate Professor
Environmental and Occupational Health

Department of Public Health Sciences
One Shields Avenue, 118 MS1-C
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

(530) 754-8282

Exposure Science Web Page




Research Interests

My research focuses on the fate, transport, and exposure to chemicals in a multimedia environment within the context of environmental risk assessment. Current research interests fall into three areas. First, I am developing an indoor fugacity model to assess exposures resulting from indoor releases of pesticides and other organic compounds. These exposures are important for young children in homes where pesticides are used due to their increased contact with indoor surfaces and their hand to mouth activity. I have developed a model of the indoor environment, including air and indoor surfaces such as floors and walls, an important sink/source for semi-volatile compounds. I am expanding this model to include the resulting exposure. We are also considering the models applicability for use with other consumer products.

Second, I am looking at the exposure to Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) in various indoor microenvironments through modeling and monitoring. We have quantified variability and uncertainty in indoor sources strengths and the resulting risks from one study. We are developing a model for assessing exposures to HAPs in microenvironments and determine the relative risk between compounds. Finally, we are conducting a field study with two components, the first to monitor a suite of hazardous air pollutants in microenvironments around Boston, and the second to monitor indoor, outdoor, workplace, and personal exposure for a panel of individuals in both urban and suburban regions in and around Boston.

In the third area, I am developing methods for quantifying, and uses for, the Intake Fraction of compounds. The Intake Fraction is the integrated incremental intake of a pollutant released from a source or source category and summed over all exposed individual per unit of emitted pollutant. These values are useful for comparative risk assessments and life cycle impact assessments. Environmental problems are often classified by the affected media, such as air, water, or soil contamination. However, for multimedia pollutants, air pollutants can be transferred to soil and contaminated soil can transfer pollution into air through air/soil interactions. Multimedia modeling can be used to address this need, and has been a focus of my research. I have published papers on the intake fraction values for a number of multimedia pollutants, as well as the spatial variability in these intake fraction values resulting from agricultural patterns.

I have also developed methods for quantifying the spatial range and temporal persistence of organic pollutants in a multimedia environment, a classification system for persistent pollutants and evaluated the use of long range transport models in the context of regulatory decisions through a model comparison.

Current Projects

Assessing human exposure to hazardous air pollutants in various microenvironments (P.I.)
American Chemistry Council

The main objective of this proposed research is to reduce uncertainties in predicting exposure levels to volatile hazardous air pollutants (hap). To meet this objective, we will measure personal exposure, outdoor, indoor, and workplace concentrations as well as collect time activity data for 40 study participants and the air exchange rate of their home. Microenvironmental concentrations will be collected through the workplace concentrations of the study participants as well as through scripted activities completed by field staff.

Investigating Longitudinal Changes in Exposure Related Behavior

The main objective of this study is to compare three different platforms for obtaining data about peoples activities as related to potential exposure to pollutants in the environment. In addition, it will investigate longitudinal and seasonal changes in these behaviors.

The Autism Phenome Project
MIND Institute

A large-scale longitudinal study will enroll 1,800 children - 900 with autism, 450 with developmental delay and 450 who are typically developing - who will undergo a thorough medical evaluation in addition to systematic analyses of their immune systems, brain structures and functions, genetics, environmental exposures and blood proteins. In addition, we will be looking at environmental exposures to determine if these are related to prevalence of autism.

Mexican Immigration to California: Agricultural Safety and Acculturation (MICASA) Study
California Endowment

The MICASA Study is a cross-sectional study to look at a variety of factors related to health, including environmental exposure, for migrant farm workers in the town of Mendota.


University of California, Berkeley Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering 1999
University of California, Berkeley M.S., Mechanical Engineering 1996
University of California, Los Angeles B.S., Mechanical Engineering 1993

Selected Professional Experience

2005-present Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, UC Davis, Davis, CA
2001-2004 Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, Harvard School of Public Health, Environmental Health Department and Center for Risk Assessment, Boston, MA
2000-2001 Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Environmental Energy Technology Division, Berkeley, CA
1999-2000 Postdoctoral Researcher,Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Environmental Energy Technology Division, Berkeley, CA
1993- 1995 Member of Technical Staff, Hughes Aircraft Company, El Segundo, California


EPA STAR Fellow, 1997 – 1999

ISEA Early Career Award, 2002-2005

Student Presentation Award, Society for Risk Assessment, 1998

Professional Societies

International Society of Exposure Assessment, Elected Academic Councilor 2002-2004

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Co-Chair of Multimedia Modeling Advisory Committee 1999-2002

Society for Risk Analysis

American Chemical Society

Selected Professional Activities

2004 Member of the International Scientific Committee for the 2004 International Society of Exposure Assessment Annual Meeting

2003 Guest Editor for Special Issue of the Journal of Exposure Assessment and Environmental Epidemiology

2003 Advised US EPA on experimental design for work to assess exposures to pesticides from surfaces to support modeling efforts2001 US representative to OECD/UNEP Workshop on the use of Multimedia models for estimating overall environmental persistence and long range transport in the context of PBTs/POPs assessment

2000 Panelist for EPA’s Risk Assessment Forum on Issues Associated with Considering Developmental Changes in Behavior and Anatomy when Assessing Exposure to Children

2000 Member of the organizing committee to plan the “Workshop on Combining Environmental Fate and Air Quality Modeling,” sponsored by the Reactivity Research Working Group Subgroup 3 on Atmospheric Availability and Environmental Fate held June 27th – 29th at the EPA in Research Triangle Park, NC.


Peer-reviewed journals (published or in press)

1. Eisenberg JNS, Bennett DH, McKone TE. Chemical Dynamics of Persistent Organic Pollutants: A Sensitivity Analysis Relating Soil Concentration Levels to Atmospheric Emissions, Environmental Science and Technology, 1998 32 (1),115-123

2. Bennett DH, James AL, McKone TE, Oldenburg CM. On Uncertainty in Remediation Analysis: Variance Propagation from Subsurface Transport to Exposure Modeling, Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 1998 62, 117-129.

3. Bennett DH, McKone TE, Kastenberg WE, Matthies M. General Formulation of Characteristic Travel Distance for SemiVolatile Organic Chemicals in a Multimedia Environment, Environmental Science and Technology, 1998, 32 (24), 4023-4030.

4. Liu C, Bennett DH, Kastenberg WE, McKone TE, Browne DG. A Multimedia, Multiple Pathway Exposure Assessment of Atrazine: Fate, Transport, and Uncertainty Analysis, Reliability Engineering and Systems Safety, 1999, 63, 169-184.

5. Bennett DH, Kastenberg WE, McKone TE. A Multimedia, Multiple Pathway Risk Assessment of Atrazine: The Impact of Age Differentiated Exposure Including Joint Uncertainty and Variability, Reliability Engineering and Systems Safety, 1999, 63, 185-198.

6. Bennett DH, Kastenberg WE, McKone TE. General Formulation of Characteristic Time for Persistent Chemicals in a Multimedia Environment, Environmental Science and Technology, 1999, 33 (3), 503-509.

7. Bennett DH, McKone TE, Kastenberg WE. Evaluating Multimedia Chemical Persistence: Classification and Regression Tree Analysis. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2000, 19 (4), 810-819.

8. Bennett DH, Scheringer M, McKone TE, and Hüngerbühler K. Predicting Long-Range Transport: A Systematic Evaluation of Two Multimedia Transport Models, Environmental Science and Technology, 2001, 35 (6) 1181-1189.

9. MacLeod M, Woodfine D, Mackay D, McKone T, Bennett D, and Maddalena R. BETR North America: A Regionally Segmented Multimedia Contaminant Fate Model for North America, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2001, 8, 1-8.

10. Bennett DH, McKone TE, Evans JS, Nazaroff WW, Margni MD, Jolliet O, Smith KR. Defining Intake Fraction, Environmental Science and Technology, May 1, 2002, 206A-211A.

11. Bennett DH, Margni MD, McKone TE, Jolliett O. Intake Fraction for Multimedia Pollutants: A Tool for Life Cycle Analysis and Comparative Risk Assessment, Risk Analysis, 2002, 22 (5) 905-918.

12. McKone TE, Bennett DH. Chemical-Specific Representation of Air-Soil Exchange and Soil Penetration in Regional Multimedia Models, Environmental Science and Technology, 2003, 37 (14) 3123- 3132.

13. Levy JI, Bennett DH, Melly SJ, Spengler JD. The Influence of Traffic Patterns on Particulate Matter and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentrations in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 2003, 13 (5) 364-371.

14. Bennett DH, Furtaw Jr. EJ. Fugacity-Based Indoor Residential Pesticide Fate Model, Environmental Science and Technology, 2004, 38, 2142-2152.

15. Sax SN, Bennett DH, Chillrud SN, Kinney PL, Spengler JD. Differences in Source Emission Rates of Volatile Organic Compounds in Inner-city Residences of New York City and Los Angeles. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 2004, 14 (S1) S95-S109.

16. MacLeod M., Bennett DH, Perem M, Maddalena RL, McKone TE, and Mackay D. Dependence of Intake Fraction on Release Location in a Multimedia Framework: A Case Study of Four Contaminants in North America, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2004 8(3):89-102

17. Meeker JD, Barr DB, Ryan L, Herrick RF, Bennett DH, Bravo R, Hauser R. Temporal Variability of Urinary Levels of Non-persistent Insecticides in Adult Men. Journal of Exposure Analysis andEnvironmental Epidemiology,2005 May;15(3):271-81

18. Koeler DA, Bennett DH, Norris GA, Spengler JD. Rethinking Environmental Performance from a Public Health Perspective: A Comparative Industry Analysis. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 9(3):143-167 SUM 2005

19. Margni M, Pennington DW, Bennett DH, Jolliet O. Cyclic Exchanges and Level of Coupling Between Environmental Media: Intermedia Feedback in Multimedia Fate Models. Environmental Science andTechnology, 2004 Oct 15;38(20):5450-7

20. Meeker JD, Ryan L, Barr DB, Herrick RF, Bennett DH, Bravo R, Hauser R. The Relationship of Uinary Metabolites of Carbaryl/naphthalene and Chlorphyrifos with Human Semen Quality. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2004, 112, 1665-1670.

21. Meeker JD, Singh NP, Ryan L, Duty SM, Barr DB, Herrick RF, Bennett DH, Hauser R. Urinary Levels of Insecticide Metabolites and DNA Damage in Human Sperm. Human Reproduction, 2004 Nov;19(11):2573-80. Epub 2004 Aug 27.

22. Bennett DH, Furtaw Jr. EJ. Fugacity-Based Indoor Residential Pesticide Fate Model Environmental Science and Technology, 38: 2142-2152. 2004.

23. Bennett DH and Koutrakis, P. Determining the Infiltration of Outdoor Particles in the Indoor Environment Using a Dynamic Model. Journal of Aerosol Science. 2005

24. Nishioka Y, Levy JI, Norris GA, Bennett DH, Spengler JD. A risk-based approach to health impact assessment for input-output analysis – Part 1: Methodology. Submitted to International Journal of Life Cycle Analysis. 2006

25. Nishioka Y, Levy JI, Norris GA, Bennett DH, Spengler JD. A risk-based approach to health impact assessment for input-output analysis – Part 2: Case study of insulation. Submitted to International Journal of Life Cycle Analysis. 2006

26. Loh MM, Houseman EA, Gray GM, Levy JI, Spengler JD, Bennett DH. Measured concentrations of VOC’s in Non-residential microenvironments. Environmental Science and Technology, 40: 6903-6911. 2006

27. Sonja N. Sax, Deborah H. Bennett, Steven N. Chillrud, James Ross, Patrick. Kinney, John D. Spengler, A Cancer Risk Assessment of Inner-City Teenagers Living in New York City and Los Angeles, EHP, 2006; 114 (10): 1558-1566.

28. Loh MM, Levy JI, Spengler JD, Houseman EA, Bennett DH. Ranking Cancer Risks of Organic Hazardous Air Pollutants in the United States. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2007;115(8):1160-1168.

29. Dodson RE, Levy JI, Shine JP, Spengler JD, Bennett DH. Multi-zonal air flow rates in residences in Boston, Massachusetts. Atmos Environ, 2007; 41 (17): 3722-3727.

30. V.Y. Seaman, D.H. Bennett, T.M. Cahill. Origin, Occurrence, and Source Emission Rate of Acrolein in Residential Indoor Air. Environmental Science and Technology, 2007 41(20): 6940-6946.

31.Dodson RE, Houseman EA, Levy JI, Spengler JD, Shine JP, Bennett DH., Measured and Modeled Personal Exposures to and Risks from Volatile Organic Compounds. Environmental Science and Technology, 2007 41: 8498-8505.

32. Julien R, Adamkiewicz G, Levy JI, Bennett D, Nishioka M, Spengler JD. Pesticide Loadings of Select Organophosphate and Pyrethroid Pesticides in Urban Public Housing. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology 2008, 18, 167–174.

33. Dodson, R.E., J.I. Levy, J.D. Spengler, J.P. Shine, and D.H. Bennett. Influence of Basements, Garages, and Common Hallways on Indoor Residential Volatile Organic Compound Concentrations. Atmospheric Environment. 2008, 42(7):1569-1581.

34. Siddiqui AR, Lee K, Bennett DH, Yang X, Brown KH, Bhutta ZA, Gold EB. Kitchen Carbon Monoxide and PM2.5 Concentrations by Cooking Fuel in a Village of Semi-Rural Pakistan. Indoor Air, 2009 19(1):75-82.

35. Loh MM, Houseman EA, Levy JI, Spengler JD, Bennett DH. Contribution To Volatile Organic Compound Exposures From Time Spent In Stores And Restaurants And Bars. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, In Press.

36. Dodson RE, Levy JI, Houseman EA, Spengler JD, Bennett DH, Evaluating Methods for Predicting Indoor Residential Volatile Organic Compound Concentration Distributions. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, In Press.

37. Ahn, K.C., Gee, S., Tsai, H.J., Bennett, D.H., Nishioka, M., Blum, A., Fishman, E., Hammock, B. An Immunoassay for Monitoring Environmental and Human Exposure to the Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether BDE-47, Environmental Science & Technology, In Press.

39. Seaman, V.Y., Bennett, D.H., and Cahill, T.M., Indoor Acrolein Emission and Decay Rates Resulting from Domestic Cooking Events, Atmospheric Environment, In Press.

40. Lee, K., Kim, J.Y., Putti, K., Bennett, D.H., Cassady, D., and Hertz-Piccioppo, I. Use of a Portable Global Positioning System (GPS) Devices in Exposure Analysis for Time-location Measurement. Journal of Environmental Health Sciences, 35: 447-453, 2009.

Conference Proceedings

1. Bennett, D.H., Kastenberg, W.E., McKone, T.E., Determining the Appropriate Spatial Scale for Managing Environmental Risks, Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management 4, 1998, New York, Springer, pp. 1503-1509.

2. Bennett, D.H., Kastenberg, W.E., McKone, T.E., Overall Human Exposure Based on Spatial Range and Persistence, Society for Risk Assessment – Europe, 1998, Paris.

3. Bennett, D.H., T.E. McKone, W.E. Kastenberg, CART Screening Level Analysis of Characteristic Time- A Case Study. American Chemical Society, May 1999.

4. Scheringer, M., Bennett, D.H., McKone, T.E., and Hüngerbuhler, K., Relations between Persistence and Spatial Range of Environmental Chemicals. American Chemical Society, May 1999.

5. Bennett, D.H., T.E. McKone, Furtaw, E.J., A Fugacity-Based Indoor Residential Pesticide Fate Model. Indoor Air, July 2002.

Book Chapters

1. Van De Meent, D., T.E. Mckone, T. Parkerton, M. Matthies, M. Scheringer, F. Wania, R. Purdy, and D.H. Bennett, Persistence and Transport Potential of Chemicals In A Multimedia Environment, in Evaluation of Persistence and Long-Range Transport of Organic chemicals in the Environment: Report of a SETAC Pellston Workshop, G.M. Klecka and D. Mackay, Editors. 2000, SETAC Press: Pensacola, FL

2. Bennett, D. H.; McKone, T. E.; Kastenberg, W. E., Characteristic Time, Characteristic Travel Distance, and Population Based potential Dose in a Multimedia Environment: A Case Study, In Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: Theory and Practice, Paustenbach, D. J., Ed. John Wiley and Sons: New York. 2002