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Qi Yao Ph.D. ’17 and graduate student Zijiang "River" Yang each received the 2017 Education Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Agrochemicals. The award is sponsored by the Bayer Corporation and granted to research that promotes an understanding of the role of chemistry in agriculture among young scientists.

With support from advisor Alba Torrents and colleagues at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, Yao and Yang investigated how well trees and other vegetation remove air pollutants emitted by poultry houses. Particulate matter from these operations can cause asthma and other serious health problems when inhaled, while ammonia creates an unpleasant odor.

The research took place at sites in Delaware and Pennsylvania in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the University of Delaware, the University of Iowa, and Oklahoma State University.

Their results show that vegetated buffers planted around poultry houses can reduce ammonia levels by 14 percent and cut back particulate matter by seven percent.

The award was given in recognition for their field campaigns and incorporation of volatile organic compound analysis. Yao and Yang were also acknowledge for the adaptation of a common air pollution dispersion model to simulate plumes from horizontal sources in a highly localized situation—such as poultry houses.

Their efforts will allow state and local officials to better predict emissions from these sources and assess the effectiveness of mitigation technologies.

Yao and Yang presented their results at the 254th ACS National Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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August 22, 2017

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