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John W. Roberts

John W. Roberts or Dr. Dust - author, leader, inspiration to us all
Founder of the Master Home Environmentalists

  • May 16, 1924 - October 24, 2008

John Roberts or Dr. Dust as he is better known, continues to lead and inspire as he moves past 80 years of age. He has consistently and energetically sought to reduce the exposure of children to toxicants and asthma causing agents. Approximately 15 years ago he was one of the founders of the Master Home Environmentalist (MHE) program. MHE is now promoted nationally by ALA and was recently received a national award from the US EPA. John continues to voluntarily teach in the MHE classes and works hard to secure funding for the program. In 1998, John and Wayne Ott published a widely read article in Scientific America entitled Everyday Exposure to Toxic Pollutants which focused the health effects and the need to improve indoor air quality. Since that time he has consistently published or inspired others to publish articles on the health effects of dust and indoor contaminants. He attends countless meeting at ALAW and motivates many of us to continue the efforts to eliminate the causes of asthma. Most recently he has been working to demonstrate that the MHE program is a cost effective way to reduce asthma. John also helps coordinate and collaborate with other NGOs such as the League of Women's Voters and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, which he also volunteers. In summary, John cheerfully works unselfishly for the benefit of others and at every meeting inspiring us to do more. He is an example to us all and worthy of this recognition.

See Washblog for more information.

Articles Written by John Roberts

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More Biograhical Information on John

Education Degree Yr Major
Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR BS 48 Math, Physics
US Merchant marine Academy, Kings Point, NY BS 56 Marine Engr.
University of Washington, Seattle, WA M Ed 56 Counseling
University of Washington, Seattle, WA MS 73 Air Quality

Received honorary title of "Dr. Dust" from my students and the American Lung Association of Washington

1958-1970 Principal Personnel Analyst, Seattle Civil Service Commission, Supervised recruiting and selection of employees for the City of Seattle; helped revise steam license law to automate boilers.

1970-1982 Source Test Engineer, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Supervised source testing and special studies; planned control strategies and review plans for new sources. Developed emission factors for fugitive dust emissions from roads, rock crushers, and copper smelter operations. Completed a multimedia exposure assessment for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury in 1974 for the community around the Tacoma Smelter including air, soil, road dust, house dust, and garden vegetables.

1983-present Consulting Engineer, President of Engineering Plus, Inc. Specialize in assessing and managing exposures and risks from pollutants in house dust and home. Evaluated the mutagenic activity present in house dust. Co-developer of the High Volume Small Surface Sampler (HVS3), recognized as ASTM method D-5438-94, for the US EPA. Validated the HVS3 for measuring lead, pesticides, PCBs, and PAHs in house dust in carpets. Co-developer of the HVS4, High Volume Furniture Sampler, and 3-spot test for measuring pollutants in dust on sofas, furniture, beds, floors, and the deep dust in carpets.

Coordinated the development of the Master Home Environmentalist Program (MHEP) of the American Lung Association of Washington. Assisted in developing the MHEP training manual covering toxicology, dust, lead, indoor air, home chemicals, ventilation, moisture, biological pollutants, and behavior change.

Consulting on home toxics, house dust, sampling, control programs, and personnel selection. Consultant to Public Health- Seattle King County and the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department on Healthy Homes for children with asthma, training outreach workers, and reducing total exposure in homes

28 publications on assessing and reducing exposure to outdoor air, indoor air, fugitive dust, and house dust. The most important publications include:

Roberts JW, Ruby MG, Warren GR. 1987. Mutagenic activity in house dust. In: Short-term Bioassays in the Analysis of Complex Mixtures. Sandu SS, DeMarini DM, Mass MJ, Moore MM, Mumfod JL. Eds. Plenum Press, New York, NY. 355-367.

Roberts, J.W., Budd, W.T., Ruby, M.G., Camann, D.E., Fortmann, R.C., Lewis, R.G., Wallace, L.A., and Spittler, T.M. (1992) "Human Exposure to Pollutants in the Floor Dust of Homes and Offices," Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 2(Suppl. 1):127-146.

Roberts, J.W. and Dickey, P. 1995. Exposure of children to pollutants in house dust and indoor air. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 143: 59-78

Ott, W.R. and Roberts, J.W. (1998) "Everyday Exposure to Toxic Pollutants," Scientific American, 278(2):86-91.

Roberts, J.W., Clifford, W.S., Glass, G., and Hummer, P.G. (1999) "Reducing Dust, Lead, Bacteria, and Fungi in Carpets by Vacuuming," Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 36: 477-484.

Roberts, J.W., Glass, G., and Mickelson L. (2004) "A Pilot Study of the Measurement and Control of Deep Dust, Surface dust, and Lead in 10 Old Carpets Using the 3-Spot Test While Vacuuming," Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 48(1):16-23.

Roberts JW, Ott WR. 2006. Exposure to pollutants from house dust. In: Exposure Analysis. (Ott WR, Steinemann AC, Wallace LA, eds.), CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, LLC, Boca Raton, FL.

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