Christopher D. Simpson, PhD, MSc

Professor, Env. and Occ. Health Sciences (Primary department)
My research interests involve the application of analytical chemistry to the development of techniques for assessment of exposure to toxic chemicals, and the subsequent application of those techniques to investigate occupational and environmental exposures. I am particularly interested in the development of analytical methodology to measure xenobiotics and their metabolites or transformation products in biological samples (biomarkers). In support of these efforts, I conduct studies to develop sampling and analysis methods for environmental samples, to provide accurate external exposure measures to validate the biomarkers. I am also interested in applying biomarker techniques in the field of chemical carcinogenesis – to provide new insights into the role of metabolic phenotype and environmental factors in modifying cancer risk.

Contact Information

University of Washington
Box: 357234
1959 NE Pacific Street
Seattle, WA 98195-
Tel: 206-543-3222

Research Interests

  • Air Pollution Monitoring and Modeling. Ambient Air Pollutants. Analytical Chemistry. Biological Monitoring, Biomarkers. Cholinesterase monitoring. Diesel Exhaust. Exposure Assessment. Indoor Air. Industrial Chemistry. Industrial Hygiene. Occupational Exposure. Pesticides. Polycyclic Hydrocarbons. Trace Contaminants. Wood Smoke.

In the News

Teaching interests

Instrumental methods for industrial hygiene measurement (Graduate Laboratory course)
Environmental sampling and analysis (Undergraduate Lecture & Laboratory courses)
Biological monitoring for chemical exposures (Graduate seminar course)


PhD, Chemistry, University of British Columbia (Canada), 1997
MSc, Chemistry, University of Waikato, 1992


  1. Biomarkers of exposure to biomass smoke
  2. Biomarkers of exposure to diesel exhaust
  3. Use of molecular markers for measurement and source apportionment of particulate air pollution
  4. Pesticide exposure biomarkers
  5. Novel biomarkers of exposure to toxic metals
Selected Publications

Refereed research articles (published, in-press or submitted)

  1. Arcus, V., Simpson, C.D., Main, L. An enolate intermediate in chalcone-flavanone isomerisation; Saturation kinetics and a change in rate-limiting step in the general-acid-catalyesd cyclization of 2'-6'-dihydroxy-3,4,4'-trimethoxychalcone in amine buffer solutions. J. Chem. Res., (1992), 2, pp80-81.
  2. Simpson, C.D., Cullen, W.R., Quinlan, K.B., Reimer, K.J. Methodology for the determination of priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in marine sediments. Chemosphere (1995), 31, 9, pp4143-4155.
  3. Simpson, C.D., Smith, T.J., Burggraaf, S., Wilkins, A.L., Langdon, A.G., Wilcock, R.J. Identification of a point source of chlordane contamination from a timber treatment facility. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., (1995), 55, pp289-295.
  4. Simpson, C.D., Wilcock, R.J., Smith, T.J., Wilkins, A.L., Langdon, A.G. Determination of octanol-water partition coefficients for the major components of technical chlordane. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., (1995), 55, 1, pp149-153.
  5. Simpson, C.D., Mosi, A.A., Cullen, W.R., Reimer, K.J. Composition and distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in surficial marine sediments from Kitimat Harbor, Canada., Sci. Total. Environ., (1996), 181, pp265-278.
  6. Simpson, C.D., Wilkins, A.L., Langdon, A.G., Wilcock, R.J. Chlordane residues in marine biota and sediment from an intertidal sandbank in Manukau Harbour, New Zealand. Mar. Poll. Bull., (1996), 32, 6, pp499-503.
  7. Li, X-F., Cullen, W.R., Reimer, K.J., Le, X-C., Simpson, C.D. Bacterial transformation of pyrene in a marine environment. Environ. Sci. Technol., (1996), 30, pp1115-1119.
  8. Simpson, C.D., Bright, D.A., Harrington, C.F., Cullen, W.R., Reimer, K.J. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon composition in marine sediments near Kitimat, BC: The influence of sediment particle size and early diagenesis. Environ. Sci. Technol., (1998) 32, 21, pp3266-3272.
  9. Simpson, C.D., Wu, M-T., Christiani, D.C., Santella, R.M., Carmella, S.G., Hecht, S.S. Determination of r-7,t-8,t-9,c-10-tetrahydroxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a]pyrene in human urine by gas chromatography-negative ion chemical ionization-mass spectrometry (GC-NICI-MS). Chem. Res. Toxicol., (2000) 13, 4, pp271-280.
  10. Wu, M-T., Simpson, C.D., Christiani, D.C., Chang, L.W., Hecht, S.S. Relationship of exposure to coke oven emissions and urinary metabolites of benzo[a]pyrene and pyrene in coke-oven workers. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev., (2002) 11, 3, pp311-314.
  11. Simpson, C.D., He, Y.T., Ikonomou, M.G., Cullen, W.R., Reimer, K.J. Metabolism of pyrene by the soft shelled clam, Mya arenaria. Chemosphere, (2002) 49, 3, pp315-322.
  12. Simpson, C.D., Katz, B.S., Paulsen, M., Dills, R.L., Kalman, D.A. Determination of levoglucosan in atmospheric fine particulate matter. J. Air Waste Manage. Assoc., (2004) 54, pp 689-694  (P.I. of project)
  13. Larson, T., Gould, T., Simpson, C.D., Claiborn, C., Lewtas, J., Wallace, L., and Liu, L.J.S. Source apportionment of Indoor, Outdoor and Personal PM2.5 In Seattle, WA using positive matrix factorization. J. Air Waste Manage. Assoc., (2004) 54, pp1175-1187
  14. Simpson, C.D., Paulsen, M., Dills, R.L., Liu, L.J.S., Kalman, D.A. Determination of methoxyphenols in ambient atmospheric particulate: tracers for wood combustion, Environ. Sci. Technol., (2005) 39(2), pp631-637      (P.I. of project)
  15. Jimenez, J., Wu, C-F., Claiborn, C., Gould, T., Simpson, C., Larson, T., and Liu, L.J.S. Agricultural Burning Smoke in Eastern Washington: Part I. Atmospheric Characterization. Atmos. Environ. (2006) 40(4): pp639-650
  16. Dills, R.L., Paulsen, M., Ahmad, J., Kalman, D.A., Simpson, C.D. Evaluation of urinary methoxyphenols as biomarkers of woodsmoke exposure. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2006), 40(7):2163-2170  (P.I. of project)
  17. Wu, C-F., Jimenez, J., Claiborn, C., Gould, T., Simpson, C., Larson, T., and Liu, L.J.S. Agricultural Burning Smoke in Eastern Washington: Part II. Exposure Assessment. Atmos. Environ. (2006) 40(28): 5379-5392
  18. Ward, T.J., Hamilton, R., Dixon, R.W., Paulsen, M., Simpson, C.D. Characterization and evaluation of woodsmoke tracers in PM: Results from the 2003 Montana Wildfire Season, Atmos. Environ. (2006) 40(36): pp7005-7017
  19. Naeher, L.P., Smith. K.R., Brauer, M., Chowdhury, Z., Simpson, C.D, Koenig, J., Lipsett, M. and Zelikoff, J.T. Critical Review of the Health effects of woodsmoke, Inhalation Toxicol. (2007) 19:pp167-106
  20. Dhammapala, R., Claiborn, C., Simpson, C.D., and Jiminez, J.  Emission factors from wheat and Kentucky bluegrass stubble burning: comparison of field and simulated burn experiments. Atmos. Environ. (2007) 41: pp1512-1520
  21. Clark, M. Paulsen, M., Canuz, E., Smith, K.R. and Simpson, C.D. Urinary methoxyphenol biomarkers and woodsmoke exposure: comparisons in rural Guatemala with personal CO and kitchen CO, levoglucosan, and PM2.5. Environ. Sci. Technol. (2007) 41(10): 3481-3487
    (corresponding author and P.I. of project)
  22. Dhammapala, R., Claiborn, C., Corkill, J., Gullet, B., Simpson, C.D., and Paulsen, M.  Emission factors of PAHs, methoxyphenols, elemental carbon and organic carbon from simulated wheat and Kentucky bluegrass stubble burns. Atmos. Environ. (2007) 41: pp2660-2669
  23. Toriba, A., Kitaoka, H., Dills, R., Mizukami, S., Tanabe, K., Takeuchi, N., Ueno, M., Kameda, T., Ning, T., Hayakawa, K., and Simpson, C.D.  Identification and quantification of 1-nitropyrene metabolites in human urine as a proposed biomarker for exposure to diesel exhaust, Chem. Res. Toxicol. (2007) 20: pp999-1007. (P.I. of project and mentor to A. Toriba – postdoctoral fellow)
  24. Jiminez, J., Claiborn, C., Dhammapala, R., and Simpson, C.D.  Developing a source fingerprint for burning of wheat and Kentucky bluegrass stubble in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. Environ Sci. Technol. (2007) 41(22):7824-7829.
  25. Miller-Schulze, J.P., Paulsen, M., Toriba, A., Hayakawa, K. and Simpson, C.D.  Analysis of 1-Nitropyrene in air particulate matter standard reference materials by using LC-MS/MS with on-line reduction and two dimensional HPLC. J. Chrom. A (2007) 1167:154-160. (P.I. of project and supervisor for Miller-Schulze (PhD student) and M. Paulsen (M.S. student))
  26. Allen, R.W., Mar, T., Koenig,J., Liu, L-J.S., Gould, T., Simpson,C.D., and Larson,T. Changes in lung function and airway inflammation among asthmatic children residing in a woodsmoke-impacted urban area. Inhal. Toxicol. (2008) 20:423-433.
  27. Neitzel, R., Naeher, L.P., Paulsen, M., Dunn, K. Stock, A., and Simpson, C.D.  Biological monitoring of smoke exposure among wildland firefighters: comparison of urinary methoxyphenols with personal exposures to carbon monoxide, particulate matter and levoglucosan. J. Exposure Sci. Environ. Epi (2009) 19(4):349-358, (P.I. of project and supervisor for R. Neitzel (PhD rotation) and M. Paulsen (M.S. student))
  28. Etzkorn, J.M., Davey, N., Creba, A.S., Thompson, A.J., Leung, R., Kim, D., LeBlanc, C.W., Setton, E., Keller, C.P., Simpson, C.D., Krogh, E.T. and Gill, C.G. The Use of Membrane Introduction Tandem Mass Spectrometry (MIMS-MS/MS) in Field Locations as an On-Line Quantitative Environmental Monitoring Technique for Trace Contaminants in Air and Water. J. Chrom. Sci. 2009 47(1): 57-66,
  29. Miller-Schulze, J.P., Paulsen, M., Toriba,A., Tang,N., Hayakawa,K., Tamura,K., Dong,L., Zhang,X., and Simpson.C.D. Nitro Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Urban Air Particulate Collected in Shenyang, China and Their Relevance to Emission Sources and Atmospheric Conditions Environ. Sci. Technol. (2010) 44:216-221. (P.I. of project and supervisor for Miller-Schulze (PhD student) and M. Paulsen (M.S. student))
  30. Simpson, C.D., and Naeher, L. Biological monitoring of woodsmoke exposure. Inhalation. Toxicol. 2010, 22(2): 99-103.
  31. Bergauff, M.A., Ward, T.J., Noonan, C.W., Migliaccio, C.T., Simpson, C.D., Evanoski, A.R., and Palmer, C.P. Urinary levoglucosan as a biomarker of woodsmoke: Results of human exposure studies. J. Exposure Sci. Environ. Epi. 2010 20(4): 385-392 doi:10.1038/jes.2009.46
  32. Kim Oanh Nguyen Thi; Thuy Ly Bich, Danutawat T., Rajia B., Pongkiatkul Prapat, C. D. Simpson, L-J S. Liu. Source characterization of aerosol emissions from field open burning of rice straw 2011. Atmos Environ. 45:493-502
  33. A.P. Sullivan, N. Frank, G. Onstad, C.D. Simpson, and J.L. Collett, Jr. Application of High-Performance Anion-Exchange Chromatography – Pulsed Amperometric Detection for Measuring Carbohydrates in Routine Daily Filter Samples Collected by a National Network: 1. Determination of the Impact of Biomass Burning in the Upper Midwest 2011 JGR Atmospheres 116 D08302, doi:10.1029/2010JD014166
  34. Adetona, O., Sjodin, A., Zheng L., Romanoff, L.C., Aguilar-Villalobos, M., Needham, L.L., Hall, D.B., Luis, A., Cassidy, B.E., Simpson, C.D., Naeher, L.P.Personal Exposure to PM2.5 and Urinary Hydroxy-PAH Levels in Bus Drivers Exposed to Traffic Exhaust, in Trujillo, Peru. 2011 J. Occup. Environ. Hyg. (Accepted, October 2011).
  35. Miller-Schulze, J., Paulsen, M., Kameda, T., Toriba, A., Tang, N., Tamura, K., Dong, L.,, Zhang, X., Hayakawa, K., Yost, M., Simpson, C.D. Evaluation of Urinary Metabolites of 1-nitropyrene as Biomarkers of Exposure to Diesel Exhaust for Taxi Drivers in Shenyang, China. 2012 J Exposure Sci. & Environ. Epi.accepted March 2012
  36. Cunningham, R.N., Simpson, C.D., and Keifer, M.C. Hazards Faced By Informal Recyclers in the Slums of Asunción, Paraguay. Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health. (submitted, August 2011; revision submitted March 2012).
Review date: