Published: 03/28/2024

Project Title: Identifying health-threats of toxic metal-containing particulate matter from coal-fired brick kilns in Bangladesh 

Coal-fired brick kilns are major contributors to the high concentration of airborne PM 2.5 within Bangladesh and pose detrimental health risks to local communities, particularly to young children. The health threats of PM 2.5 formed during coal combustion in brick kilns are determined by their chemical and structural properties, which are largely unknown. The proposed project aims to (1) determine the metal content of PM 2.5; (2) quantitatively identify PM 2.5 particle chemical and structural properties; and (3) assess the health risks associated with toxic metals in the fine PM 2.5. Samples have been collected from feed materials and coal-fired exhaust of brick kilns in Bangladesh. We will interrogate the particles using advanced techniques, including transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The results of this project will advance our understanding of the health impacts imposed by brick kilns distributed throughout Bangladesh, and they will inform targeted policies and interventions for mitigating the health risks to local communities. 

List of Research Assistant (Hourly) Responsibilities: 

• Sample preparation, including drying, crushing, and sieving 

• Perform bulk characteristic measurements, including XRF and XRD 

• Conduct brick kiln simulated heating experiments using coal samples in a muffle furnace 

• Prepare samples for TEM and ICP-MS analysis 

• Review and analyze data 

Qualification Requirements: 

• Eligible to apply: Stanford undergraduate students in good academic standing and planning to return to Stanford in Autumn 2024. Co-term students in graduate tuition status are ineligible. 

• All majors welcome. A background in chemistry and material characterization is helpful but not required. 

Position, Time Commitment and Remuneration: 

• Position: Hourly RA for Spring and Summer Quarters through King Center for Global Development. 

• 10 hours per week in Spring, 40 hours per week in Summer. 

Hourly pay in accordance with Stanford rates. 

Department: Earth System Science 

Faculty Mentor: Professor Scott Fendorf, Soils and Environmental Biogeochemistry Research Group 

Team Members: Professor Scott Fendorf, Professor Steve Luby 

Community Partner: icddr,b (Bangladesh): 

Primary Research Mentors: Alireza Namayandeh, PhD (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) 

To Apply: Please email Alireza Namayandeh ( as soon as possible with a 

CV or resume and a Stanford transcript. The position starts in Spring Quarter. 

Photo credit: Photo by Ravi Shankar on Unsplash