David Leith, ScD

Professor Emeritus
Department of Environment Sciences and Engineering


Current Professional Title and Affiliation Outside of ESE:
Summer intern, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Colorado State University
(2012 to present)

Dr. Leith is a retired ESE Professor and former Associate Chair and Director of Graduate Studies (2009-2012), Director of the Environmental Engineering Program (2007-2012), and Director of the Air, Radiation, and Industrial Hygiene Program (1986-1994).

Dr. Leith is interested in methods to evaluate and control air pollutants in the workplace and in the outdoor environment.  This work involves the development, evaluation and optimization of these methods, using both theory and laboratory procedures.  Recent collaborators have interests in exposure assessment and in epidemiology.  Two devices he helped to develop are currently evaluating air quality in the space station.

Honors and Awards

Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award for excellence in teaching, research and service to the broader public health community
2008, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction
2005, UNC Chapel Hill

Newton Underwood Award for excellence in teaching
1993 and 2003, Students of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, UNC Chapel Hill

John E. Larsh, Jr. Award for Student Mentorship
2001, Gillings School of Global Public Health

Teaching Interests

Courses Previously Taught at UNC:

ENVR 416:  Aerosol Technology
ENVR 754:  Air Pollution Control
EPID 785:    Environmental Epidemiology (Wing, Engel), module on Air Pollution
ENVR 150:   Principles and Applications of Environmental Engineering (with Professor Philip Singer)
ENVR 401:   Unifying Concepts, module on Air Pollution Control
ENVR 411:   Environmental Measurements (Weinberg), two to four two-week modules on air measurements
ENVR 516:   Aerosol Technology Lab
ENVR 890:   Environmental Risks (Characklis), module on Air Pollution Control

Research Activities

•    Methods to assess personal exposure to air pollutants
•    Factors that affect the generation of air pollutants
•    Methods to control air pollutants at the source

Key Publications

Quantitative protection factors for common masks and face coverings. Leith, David, Christian L’Orange and John Volckens (2021). Environ. Sci. Technol., 55(5), 3136-3143.

Design and performance of UPAS inlets for respirable and thoracic mass sampling. Leith, David, John Mehaffy, Daniel Miller-Lionberg and John Volckens (2020). Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 17(6), 274-282.

Development and Evaluation of an Ultrasonic Personal Aerosol Sampler (UPAS). Volckens, John, Casey Quinn, David Leith, John Mehaffy, Charles Henry, Daniel Miller-Lionberg (2016). Indoor Air.

Development of a Transfer Function for a Personal, Thermophoretic Nanoparticle Sampler. Leith, David, Dan Miller-Lionberg, Gary Casuccio, Traci Lersch, Hank Lentz, Anthony Marchese, and John Volckens (2014). Aerosol Science and Technology, 48(1), 81-89.

Melvin W. First, 1914-2011. Leith, David and Stephen N. Rudnick (2012). Aerosol Science and Technology, 46(-), 124-125.


  • ScD, Environmental Health Sciences, Harvard University, 1975
  • MS, Chemical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, 1970
  • BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, 1970