Accepted Paper:

Bio-objectifing air through technoscientific practices  

Author:

Attila Bruni (Trento University)

Paper short abstract:

The contribution is inspired by the direct observation of the activity of a university laboratory, pioneering for the analysis of Particulate Matter (PM) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The paper focuses on the practices through which air is bio-objectified.

Paper long abstract:

The present work aims to contribute to the current debate concerning bio-objects with reference to a paradigmatic case, such as the analysis of air quality.

The contribution is inspired by the direct observation of the activity of a university laboratory of environmental sustainability, pioneering for the analysis of Particulate Matter (PM) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Both the PM that VOCs are normally present in the air as pollutants emitted from different sources and their presence in outdoor air is already the subject of study and, in some cases, monitoring and regulation (as for PM10 or benzene). But the PM and VOCs are also present in the indoor air, i.e. all those living and working environments where industrial activities are not carried out (homes, offices, schools, hospitals, means of transport). In many cases, VOCs are emitted from building materials and furnishings, some VOCs, then, are odorous substances and can cause olfactory harassment. Finally, VOCs are also present in the exhaled human and some of them may be useful markers for the identification of specific diseases.

All these lines of research are new to the scientific community and, to date, there are no methodologies shared and unified procedures for sampling and analysis. The paper will focus on the practices of 'characterization' of the air, showing how it becomes an object multiple, which in turn acquires meaning in relation to specific problems, issues and processes of bio-objectification.

Panel T058
Biorisk Intelligence otherwise: Scenarios, Visual Knowledge and new Mechanisms of Surveillance