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Robert Phalen

Robert N. Phalen, Ph.D., CIH

Associate Professor of Occupational Safety and Health with specializations in industrial hygiene or safety,
College of Science and Engineering

Contact number: 281-283-3753
Office: STEM 2208


Robert N. Phalen, PhD, CIH is an Associate Professor of Industrial Hygiene and Safety at University of Houston Clear Lake.  Dr. Phalen received his doctoral degree in Environmental Health Sciences from University of California, Los Angeles, with specialization in industrial hygiene.  His primary areas of research include industrial hygiene, personal protective equipment, ergonomics, and air quality.  Dr. Phalen is a co-author of the book Air Pollution Science: A Public Health Perspective, published by the American Public Health Association and Jones and Bartlett.

Areas of Expertise

Dr. Phalen has expertise in the comprehensive practice of industrial hygiene, with specific expertise in exposure assessment, indoor air quality, noise, personal protective clothing and equipment, and ergonomics.



  • 2011  Phalen, R.F. and Phalen, R.N., Introduction to Air Pollution Science: A Public Health Perspective, Jones and Bartlett and American Public Health Association Press, November 10, 2011.


Refereed Journal Articles (* corresponding author)

  • 2017   Steele, K., Pelham, T. and Phalen, R.N.* “Evaluating polymer degradation with complex mixtures using a simplified surface area method” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, In press. 
  • 2016    Phalen, R.N., Cousins, K., Usher, T., Young, M. and Zhang, R.* “Revising the formulization of the Narayanaswamy equation using the Adam-Gibbs theory” Journal of Non-Crystalline Polymers, 453 (2016) 59 – 65. 
  • 2015    Zhang, R.*, Phalen, R.N., Cataquis, A., Desta, M., and Kloesel, M. “Study of highly porous polymers for H2 fuel storage using positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy” International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 40 (2015) 8732 – 8741. 
  • 2015    Phalen, R.N.* and Wong, W.K., Polymer Properties Associated with Chemical Permeation Performance of Disposable Nitrile Rubber Gloves, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 132 (2015) 44149. DOI: 10.1002/app.41449. 
  • 2015    Pham, B., Phalen, R.N., Tol, J., Oh, J. and Zhang, R.* Study of the Mechanism on the Permeation of Ethanol in Nitrile Rubber Gloves Using Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy, Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 132 (2015) 41282. DOI: 10.1002/app.41282. 
  • 2014    Phalen, R.N*, Le, T., and Wong, W.K., Changes in chemical permeation of disposable latex, nitrile and vinyl gloves exposed to simulated movement, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 11 (2014) 716-721.  DOI:10.1080/15459624.2014.908259.
  • 2012    Phalen, R.N.* and Coleman T., Evaluation of coarse and fine particulate sources using a portable aerosol monitor in a desert community, Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 89 (2012) 380-383. 
  • 2012    Phalen, R.N.* and Wong W.K., Chemical Resistance of disposable nitrile gloves exposed to simulated movement, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 9 (2012) 630-639. 
  • 2012    Phalen, R.N.* and Wong, W.K., Tensile Properties and Integrity of Cleanroom and Low-modulus Disposable Nitrile Gloves: A Comparison of Two Dissimilar Glove Types, Annals of Occupational Hygiene 56 (2012) 450-457.


Courses (Current Academic Year)

  1. INDH 3311 Industrial Health and Hygiene
  2. INDH 4311 Noise and Hearing Conservation
  3. INDH 4313 Industrial Ventilation
  4. INDH 4315 Industrial Radiological Health
  5. INDH 4321 Ergonomics, Human Factors and Workplace Design
  6. INDH 4322 Industrial Hygiene Sampling and Analysis (with lab)
  7. INDH 5131 Controls of Occupational Hazards
  8. INDH 5233 Recognition of Occupational Diseases
  9. INDH 5333 Air Pollution
  10. INDH 6315 Radiation Protection
  11. INDH 6232 Analytical Methods for Analysis of Health Hazards (with lab)

Research Projects

My primary areas of research have been with personal protective clothing and pesticides.  I have completed several NIH and NIH-type grants on these topics.  A main goal of my research has been to improve the protection afforded to workers by personal protective clothing.  I have published in the fields of occupational health and safety, environmental health and materials science.  

Awards and Accomplishments

  • 2009  Michigan Industrial Hygiene Society Best Paper Award 2008 in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, for “A moving robotic hand system for whole glove permeation and penetration: Captan and nitrile gloves” 
  • 2006  Elected member, Delta Omega Society, Iota Chapter 
  • 2005  Dissertation Year End Fellowship, University of California, Los Angeles 
  • 2004  Liberty Mutual Endowed Scholarship presented by the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia, May 11, 2004 
  • 2000 – 2003   NIOSH Education and Research Center Industrial Hygiene Fellowship