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September 10, 2008

Frey named to NRC Committee on Tetrachloroethylene

Dr. Frey (left). (Photo: Roger Winstead)

Dr. H. Christopher Frey of the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering has been named to the National Research Council Committee on Tetrachloroethylene. As a member of the new committee, Frey will help establish a precedent for how government and industry will regulate the use of tetrachloroethylene, a potentially harmful chemical that is often used in the cleaning and degreasing of metal parts during different steps of the industrial process.

Tetrachlorethylene has been shown to cause a variety of negative health effects on those who are exposed to it in high concentrations, including dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, confusion, nausea, difficulty in speaking and walking, unconsciousness and death. According to Frey, the committee will focus research on dose-response assessment, which Frey said is an aspect of risk assessment that is often overlooked.

"While uncertainty has long been recognized in human exposure and risk assessment related to chemicals in the environment, for years the quantification of such uncertainty has focused mainly on exposure assessment and not on dose-response assessment," Frey said. "As a result, the degree of confidence associated with risk estimates, which are based on both exposure and dose-response, as well as opportunities to target research in an effective manner, have been inadequately addressed."

The National Research Council seeks to improve government decision-making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. The council, along with the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, is part of a private, nonprofit institution that provides science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The four groups are collectively known as the National Academies.

During his time at NC State, Frey's research interests have been in energy and environmental systems, including exposure and risk analysis for hazardous air pollutants. He received his M.S. in mechanical engineering and Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University in 1987 and 1991, respectively.

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