Date of Award

January 2024

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Krystal Pollitt


Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is an immune dysregulation in the gut caused by genetic predisposition and environmental triggers. IBD represents two chronic intestinal inflammatory disorders: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease (CD), both presenting with multiple gastrointestinal symptoms and complications that affect a patient’s quality of life. Throughout the years, patterns of IBD and CD across the globe vary with trends for IBD prevalence increasing since the 1950s, in North America, Europe, and Australia. Rising incidences in developing regions are seen in Asia and Latin America, and newly industrialized countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, in the 21st century. Several environmental factors have been shown to have associations with CD but current knowledge on metrics analyzing environmental exposures is limited and are not as comprehensive. The exposome is a potential accurate descriptor of these environmental exposure signatures and the FreshAir personal passive air sampler presents as a low-cost innovative tool that can capture a person’s exposure to chemical organic pollutants. The objectives of this study are to 1) Describe the chemical environmental exposure patterns between different patient groups, namely pregnant females with Crohn’s Disease (CD Mother), non-pregnant females with Crohn’s Disease (CD Female), and pregnant females without Crohn’s Disease (Healthy Mother); and 2) relate these exposure characteristics to personal, built environment, and dietary factors. Each participant wore a passive air sampler as a wristband and was given 3 stationary samplers to be placed in their kitchen, living room, and bedroom over the exposure assessment period. The samplers were analyzed using gas chromatography high-resolution mass spectrometry to identify and quantify chemical pollutants, using analytical standards for targeted analysis. Principal component analysis and correlation analysis showed that personal and environmental exposures between the population subgroups show different component chemicals in the principal components, mostly polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and phthalates. These were found to be associated with certain consumer product use and dietary behavior, as well as different built environment characteristics.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access