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Dr. Katherine Ratliff

Physical Scientist, EPA, USA

Dr. Katherine Ratliff is a Physical Scientist and Principal Investigator with EPA’s Homeland Security and Materials Management Division in the Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response at the U.S. EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Dr. Ratliff has over 14 years of research experience, including six years working under the U.S. EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program, and provides technical support to a wide range of stakeholders. She uses laboratory and field-scale research studies along with numerical models to develop and evaluate strategies for remediating environmental contaminants, including a recent focus on leading EPA’s research to determine the efficacy of different air cleaning and treatment technologies against airborne pathogens. Dr. Ratliff earned her Ph.D. in Earth and Ocean Sciences from Duke University in 2017 and her B.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Vanderbilt University in 2011.

Dec 6, 2023, 10:00AM–10:10AM EST

EPA’s Research to Motivate Standardized Testing and Evaluate the Effectiveness of Air Cleaning Technologies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Homeland Security Research Program has been conducting research to evaluate the efficacy of air cleaning and treatment technologies against infectious bioaerosols. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in these technologies, which can reduce concentrations of airborne pathogens through either inactivation or particle capture, yet it remains difficult to predict the performance of emerging air cleaning technologies in applied settings. Using a large-scale bioaerosol test chamber, EPA has been conducting experiments to evaluate the efficacy of these technologies against the bacteriophage MS2, a surrogate for pathogenic viruses, under conditions that are more representative of real-world environments compared to how they are often tested. This presentation will provide an overview of studies conducted with portable air cleaners and discuss how changes to the test methodology can significantly impact calculated technology performance. It will also discuss experiments that seek to quantify the additional benefits gained from deploying multiple air cleaning technologies within a space, which can be challenging given that they are most often tested in isolation. These findings highlight the need for standardized test methods for air cleaning technologies and for conducting effectiveness testing under conditions that are representative of real-world deployments to optimize their use as part of a layered mitigation strategy to reduce the risk of disease transmission in indoor settings.

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