Deborah H. Bennett, Ph.D.




Environmental Health

Public Health Sciences-Division of Epidemiology

Locations and Contact

UC Davis

Public Health Sciences
Medical Sciences 1-C
Davis, CA 95616

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Research/Academic Interests

Deborah Bennett, PhD is an exposure scientist whose research both measures and models chemicals in dust, air and consumer products.

Dr. Bennett studies volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (VOCs and SVOCs) like plasticizers, electronics, cosmetics, flame retardants, pesticides and particulate matter. Working closely with epidemiologists and toxicologists, she researches how chemicals make their way into the body and set off biological reactions that lead to certain diseases and conditions, from asthma to autism.

One of the first scientists to measure VOCs in non-residential spaces like restaurants and stores, Dr. Bennett’s pioneering work has led to a much clearer understanding of the risk of exposure to certain chemicals and how they move through different environments.

She introduced the idea of characteristic travel distance to explain how far chemicals travel outdoors, as well as characteristic time to show how they linger both outdoors and indoors. She also came up with a metric called intake fraction to calculate how much of a chemical released into the environment a person inhales, ingests or absorbs through their skin.

Fearless in her hunt for potentially harmful chemical compounds, Dr. Bennett loves studying the elusive ones we know so little about.


Environmental and Occupational Health

Undergraduate School

B.S., UCLA, Los Angeles CA 1993

Medical School

M.S., UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 1996

Medical School

Ph.D., UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 1999

EPA Charter Science Advisory Board Member 2017, 2018

ISEA Early Career Award, 2002

EPA STAR Fellow 1997,1998, 1999

Student Presentation Award, Society for Risk Assessment, 1998

Hertz-Picciotto I, Schmidt RJ, Walker CK, Bennett DH, Oliver M, Shedd-Wise KM, LaSalle JM, Giulivi C, Puschner B, Thomas J, Roa DL, Pessah IN, Van de Water J, Tancredi DJ, Ozonoff S. A Prospective Study of Environmental Exposures and Early Biomarkers in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Design, Protocols, and Preliminary Data from the MARBLES Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2018 Nov;126(11):117004. doi:10.1289/EHP535. PMID:30465702.

Schmidt RJ, Kogan V, Shelton JF, Delwiche L, Hansen RL, Ozonoff S, Ma CC, McCanlies EC, Bennett DH, Hertz-Picciotto I, Tancredi DJ, Volk HE. Combined Prenatal Pesticide Exposure and Folic Acid Intake in Relation to Autism Spectrum Disorder. Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Sep 8;125(9):097007. doi:10.1289/EHP604. PMID:28934093.

Shin HM, McKone TE, Bennett DH. Model framework for integrating multiple exposure pathways to chemicals in household cleaning products. Indoor Air. 2017 Jul;27(4):829-839. doi:10.1111/ina.12356. Epub 2016 Dec 17. PMID:27859724.

Philippat C, Bennett DH, Krakowiak P, Rose M, Hwang HM, Hertz-Picciotto I. Phthalate concentrations in house dust in relation to autism spectrum disorder and developmental delay in the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study. Environ Health. 2015 Jun 26;14:56. doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0024-9. PMID:26108271.

Shin HM, Ernstoff A, Arnot JA, Wetmore BA, Csiszar SA, Fantke P, Zhang X, McKone TE, Jolliet O, Bennett DH. Risk-Based High-Throughput Chemical Screening and Prioritization using Exposure Models and in Vitro Bioactivity Assays. Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jun 2;49(11):6760-71. doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b00498. Epub 2015 May 14. PMID:25932772.

Bennett DH, Moran RE, Wu XM, Tulve NS, Clifton MS, Colón M, Weathers W, Sjödin A, Jones R, Hertz-Picciotto I. Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) concentrations and resulting exposure in homes in California: relationships among passive air, surface wipe and dust concentrations, and temporal variability. Indoor Air. 2015 Apr;25(2):220-9. doi:10.1111/ina.12130. Epub 2014 Jun 25. PMID:24832910.

Wu XM, Bennett DH, Moran RE, Sjödin A, Jones RS, Tancredi DJ, Tulve NS, Clifton MS, Colón M, Weathers W, Hertz-Picciotto I. Polybrominated diphenyl ether serum concentrations in a Californian population of children, their parents, and older adults: an exposure assessment study. Environ Health. 2015 Mar 14;14:23. doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0002-2. PMID:25884939.

Shin HM, McKone TE, Bennett DH. Attributing population-scale human exposure to various source categories: merging exposure models and biomonitoring data. Environ Int. 2014 Sep;70:183-91. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.05.020. Epub 2014 Jun 14. PMID:24934857.

Shin HM, McKone TE, Bennett DH. Intake fraction for the indoor environment: a tool for prioritizing indoor chemical sources. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Sep 18;46(18):10063-72. doi:10.1021/es3018286. Epub 2012 Sep 4. PMID:22920860.

Moran R, Bennett DH, Tancredi D, Wu XM, Ritz B, Hertz-Picciotto I. Frequency and Longitudinal Trends of Household Care Products Use. Atmospheric Environment. 2012 Aug;55:417-424. doi:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2012.03.021.