Leena Nylander-French, PhD

Environmental Sciences & Engineering

Curriculum Vitae
Occupational and Environmental Exposure Science Program
North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center
REACH NC (Collexis) Research Profile

159 Rosenau Hall , UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
135 Dauer Drive
Campus Box 7431
Chapel Hill 27599
T: 919-966-3826
F: 919-966-7911


1986  The University of Kuopio, Finland  BSc, Environmental Hygiene

1987  The University of Kuopio, Finland  Chemistry

1987  The University of Kuopio, Finland MSc,  Environmental Hygiene

1994  Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden  PhD, Occupational & Industrial Hygiene

Research activities

My research and teaching program is focused on understanding the consequences of human exposure to toxic substances. My laboratory has pioneered approaches to quantitatively measure both inhalation and skin exposures to toxicants and are actively engaged in the measurement of occupational and environmental exposures, biological monitoring, and developing sophisticated mathematical, statistical and toxicokinetic exposure-modeling tools in an effort to standardize and improve exposure and risk assessment. My research projects are full-scale occupational and environmental studies incorporating both methods development in the laboratory as well as health surveys where individual exposures are monitored using a battery of exposure measurement techniques (inhalation, skin, and biological monitoring) multiple times over an extended period. In addition, we are developing both exposure assessment methodologies and in vitro skin tissue models to investigate the role of individual genetic and epigenetic alterations to variations observed in biomarker levels after exposure to xenobiotics and to understand the impact and plausibility of these alterations on development of disease. My research requires new scientific approaches to quantitatively measure exposure to toxicants, determine individual differences, including genetic and epigenetic differences, between exposed subjects, and sophisticated exposure-modeling tools. Ultimately, the integration of toxicology and genetics with exposure sciences provides a basis for understanding differences in inter-individual genetic variation and interindividual differences in exposures associated with different health outcomes.


ENVR 770  Biological Monitoring in Exposure Assessment  Syllabus

ENVR 430  Health Effects of Environmental Agents

ENVR 411 Laboratory Techniques and Field Measurements

Research Interests

  • Exposure science
  • Occupational and environmental health
  • Industrial hygiene
  • Global health

Key Publications

Nylander-French, L.A.; Wu, M.D.; French, J.E.; Boyer, J.C.; Smeester, L.; Sanders, A.P.; Fry, R.C.: DNA methylation modifies urine biomarker levels in 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate exposed workers: a pilot study. Toxicology Letters 231(2):217-26, 2014.

Jiang, R.; French, J.E.; Stober, V.I.; Kang-Sickel, J.-C.C.*; Zou, F. and Nylander-French, L.A.: Single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with skin naphthyl-keratin adduct levels in workers exposed to jet fuel. Environmental Health Perspectives 120(6):857-864, 2012. PMCID: PMC3385430

Flack, S. and Nylander-French, L.A.: Occupational Chemicals: Metabolism, Toxicity and Mode of Action. Mol Biol Transl Sci 112:163-207, 2012.

Folley, T.J.; Nylander-French, L.A.; Joubert, D.M. and MacDonald Gibson, J.: Estimated burden of disease attributable to selected occupational exposures in the United Arab Emirates. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 55(10):940-952, 2012.

Thomasen, J.M. and Nylander-French, L.A.: Penetration patterns of monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate monomer in human skin. Journal of Environmental Monitoring 14(3):951-960, 2012.