Dr. Leena Nylander-French

Leena Nylander-French, PhD, CIH

Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center
Occupational Exposure Science and Industrial Hygiene Program


Dr. Nylander-French's research and teaching program is focused on understanding the consequences of human exposure to toxic substances. Her laboratory has pioneered quantitative measurement techniques for inhalation and skin exposures as well as for biological monitoring of toxicants to estimate total body dose, which is critical to assess risk to health. They are developing sophisticated mathematical, statistical, and toxicokinetic exposure-modeling tools in an effort to standardize and improve exposure and risk assessment. Currently, they 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. This research requires a new scientific approach to quantitatively measure exposure to toxicants, determine individual differences, including genetic and epigenetic differences, between exposed subjects, and sophisticated exposure-modeling tools.

Leena Nylander-French in the Gillings News

Honors and Awards

Professional Certification: Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH #6003) and Diplomate
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene

Kenan Research and Scholarly Faculty Leave
2013, University of North Carolina

Best Paper Award Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene: “Development of a sampling patch to measure dermal exposures to monomeric and polymeric 1,6 hexamethylene diisocyanate: a pilot study”
2011, Michigan Industrial Hygiene Societ

Special Emphasis Research Career Award (SERCA)
1998, Center for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Swedish Work Environment Fund Award
1992, Arbetsmiljöfondet, SWEDEN

Finnish Society for Promotion of Occupational Health Award
1991, Työterveyden edistämisyhdistys, FINLAND

Finnish Occupational Hygiene Society Award
1991, Suomen työhygienian seura, FINLAND

Finnish Work Environment Fund Award
1990, Työsuojelurahasto FINLAND

Representative Courses

Biological Monitoring in Exposure Assessment, ENVR 770

Health Effects of Environmental Agents, ENVR 430

Industrial Toxicology, ENVR 423

Research Activities

Occupational and Environmental Health
Exposure Science

Global Health

Service Activities

  1. Deputy Editor, American Journal of Industrial Medicine (2019 – Present)
  2. Study Section Member, Safety and Occupational Health Study Section, CDC/NIOSH
  3. Member of the Biological Exposure Indices Committee, American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (2000 – Present)
  4. Member of the Immune, Infectious and Dermal Disease Prevention Cross-Sector Council, National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), CDC/NIOSH (2016 – Present)

Key Publications

Early Adoption of an Improved Household Energy System in Urban Rwanda. P Jagger, I Das, S Handa, L Nylander-French, K Yeatts (2019). EcoHealth, 16(1), 7-20.

Trisaminohexyl isocyanurate, a urinary biomarker of HDI isocyanurate exposure. Z Robbins, W Bodnar, Z Zhang, A Gold, L Nylander-French (2018). Journal of chromatography. B, Analytical technologies in the biomedical and life sciences, 1076.

DNA methylation modifies urine biomarker levels in 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate exposed workers: A pilot study. Leena Nylander-French, Michael Wu, John French, Jayne Boyer, Lisa Smeester, Alison Sanders, Rebecca Fry (2014). Toxicology Letters.

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

Estimated burden of disease attributable to selected occupational exposures in the United Arab Emirates. Tiina Folley, Leena Nylander-French, Darren Joubert, Jacqueline Gibson (2012). American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55(10), 940-952.

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms associated with skin naphthyl-keratin adduct levels in workers exposed to naphthalene. Rong Jiang, John French, Vandy Stober, Juei-Chuan Kang-Sickel, Fei Zou, Leena Nylander-French (2012). Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(6), 857-864.

The utility of naphthyl-keratin adducts as biomarkers for jet-fuel exposure. et al., Tatyana Borisova, Mary Butler, Yi-Chun Chao, Peter Egeghy, Lynn Frame, John French, Juei-Chuan Kang-Sickel, Wang Li, Leena Nylander-French, Stephen Rappaport, Berrin Serdar, Christine Toennis (2011). Biomarkers, 16(7), 590-599.

Development of a sampling patch to measure dermal exposures to monomeric and polymeric 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate: a pilot study. J. M. Thomasen, K. W. Fent, L. A. Nylander-French J Occup Environ Hyg, 8(12), 709-17.

Exposure to naphthalene induces naphthyl-keratin adducts in human epidermis in vitro and in vivo. Juei-Chuan Kang-Sickel, Vandy Stober, John French, Leena Nylander-French (2010). Biomarkers, 15(6), 488-497.

Factors affecting variability in the urinary biomarker 1,6-hexamethylene diamine in workers exposed to 1,6-hexamethylene diisocyanate. Kenneth Fent, Sheila Flack, Linda Gaines, Leena Nylander-French, Jennifer Thomasen, Stephen Whittaker (2011). Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 13(1), 119-127.

Quantifying the relative importance of predictors in multiple linear regression analyses for public health studies. Y. C. Chao, Y. Zhao, L. L. Kupper, L. A. Nylander-French J Occup Environ Hyg, 5(8), 519-29.

PBTK modeling demonstrates contribution of dermal and inhalation exposure components to end-exhaled breath concentrations of naphthalene. David Kim, Melvin Andersen, Yi-Chun Chao, Peter Egeghy, Stephen Rappaport, Leena Nylander-French (2007). Environmental Health Perspectives, 115(6), 894-901.

Dermal exposure to jet fuel JP-8 significantly contributes to the production of urinary naphthols in fuel-cell maintenance workers. Yi-Chun Chao, Lawrence Kupper, Berrin Serdar, Peter Egeghy, Stephen Rappaport, Leena Nylander-French (2006). Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(2), 182-185.

A tape-stripping method for measuring dermal exposure to multifunctional acrylates. Leena Nylander-French (2000). Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 44(8), 645-651.


  • Postdoctoral Program, Exposure Assessment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1996
  • PhD, Occupational and Industrial Hygiene, Royal Institute of Technology, 1994
  • MSc, Environmental Hygiene, University of Kuopio, 1987
  • BSc, Environmental Hygiene, University of Kuopio, 1986