Exploring the utility of robots in exposure studies

Elisabeth Feld-Cook, Rahul Shome, Rosemary T. Zaleski, Krishnan Mohan, Hristiyan Kourtev, Kostas E. Bekris, Clifford P. Weisel, Jennifer (Mi K.). Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Obtaining valid, reliable quantitative exposure data can be a significant challenge for industrial hygienists, exposure scientists, and other health science professionals. In this proof-of-concept study, a robotic platform was programmed to perform a simple task as a plausible alternative to human subjects in exposure studies for generating exposure data. The use of robots offers several advantages over the use of humans. Research can be completed more efficiently and there is no need to recruit, screen, or train volunteers. In addition, robots can perform tasks repeatedly without getting tired allowing for collection of an unlimited number of measurements using different chemicals to assess exposure impacts from formulation changes and new product development. The use of robots also eliminates concerns with intentional human exposures while removing health research ethics review requirements which are time consuming. In this study, a humanoid robot was programmed to paint drywall, while volatile organic compounds were measured in air for comparison to model estimates. The measured air concentrations generally agreed with more advanced exposure model estimates. These findings suggest that robots have potential as a methodology for generating exposure measurements relevant to human activities, but without using human subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-794
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Exposure modeling
  • Personal exposure
  • Robots
  • Volatile organic compounds


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