Wei-Chung Su, PhD
Introductions presents profiles of industrial hygienists working to protect
worker health worldwide. This month
we feature Wei-Chung Su, PhD, an associate research scientist in the Aerosol
and Respiratory Dosimetry Program at
the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M. Dr. Su’s
current studies focus on the deposition
of fiber and carbon nanotube aerosols
in the human airway, the performance
evaluation of newly developed personal bioaerosol samplers, and respiratory drug delivery. In addition, he has
lectured as a guest instructor on the
topic of nasal drug delivery systems at
the College of Pharmacy at University
of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Su received an MS in Atmospheric
Science from the National Taiwan University in Taiwan and a PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor,
Mich. He is a member of AIHA®,
ACGIH® and the American Association
of Aerosol Research. Su can be reached
at (505) 348-9571 or wsu@LRRI.org.
How did you get started in aerosol science research? I’ve been fascinated with
physics and devoted to the study of air pollution for several years. The combination
of these two subjects led me to the field of aerosol science because aerosol science
deals with particle motion, and aerosols have been considered one of the major
sources of air pollution for over half a century. I started my IH-related aerosol research after becoming a PhD student. My first aerosol science research involved investigating the aerosol sampling efficiency in a still-air environment, which
represents the sampling conditions in certain indoor workplaces such as offices or
What do you enjoy the most about your work and the OHS industry? I do IH
research through an experimental approach that involves a lot of hands-on experimental setup, operation and analysis. I enjoy hands-on studies, so I think this is the
best part of my job. I like to investigate occupational health problems because these
studies are all practical and useful. I believe the aerosol-related research I have done
can benefit workers in related working environments by improving their health and
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? The contract research or fundamental studies conducted in our laboratory are always innovative and complicated.
They’ve usually never been done before; therefore, with limited literature and experimental methods for reference, I often have to develop a special experimental setup for
a study and spend a great deal of time using trial and error before undertaking an experiment.
What are some of the more recent developments in aerosol science?
Nowadays, nanotechnology is widely used in many commercial products. The production
and manufacture of nanomaterials may generate airborne nanoparticles such as silicon nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes in the workplace, which could be inhaled by
workers and result in potential health problems. Therefore, the investigation of the
concentration and size distribution of the airborne nanoparticles in the workplace, the
nanoparticle characterization, the nanoparticle lung deposition efficiency, and the
subsequent nanoparticle-induced health effects are some of the hot topics in aerosol-associated IH studies.
Can you explain what Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute’s aerosol and
respiratory dosimetry program does? At Lovelace, we have unique facilities that
allow us to offer contract services and conduct fundamental research for a large variety
of aerosol studies. For example, we have two wind tunnel facilities that enable us to
perform wind tunnel evaluations for newly developed aerosol samplers. We have different aerosol measurement instruments that make it easier for aerosol characterization research on special aerosols like fibers and carbon nanotube aerosols. Also, our laboratory
has many human nasal, oral and lung airway casts that allow us to conduct realistic
aerosol airway deposition studies for the purpose of occupational health.