Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Local sources major cause of US near-ground aerosol pollution

A new NASA study estimates that most ground-level particulate pollution in the United States stems from regional sources in North America and only a small amount is brought to the country from other parts of the world.

Researchers using an innovative global aerosol tracking model have for the first time produced a global estimate of sources and movements of aerosols near the ground where they can affect human health and run afoul of environmental regulations. Previously, researchers studying aerosols moving between continents focused primarily on tracking a single type of aerosol, such as dust or black carbon, or measuring their quantities throughout the atmosphere. This left gaps in understanding where ground-level particulate pollution comes from.

"This is the first study to comprehensively consider the origin, composition and type of fine particles over the United States and connect them to both domestic and foreign sources." said Mian Chin, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the study.

Aerosols are airborne particles that arise from both human sources such as burning fossil fuels, and natural sources such as fires, dust and volcanoes. They are also a major source of near-ground pollution. Since 1970, particulate matter has been regulated in the United State s by the Clean Air Act. A more recent concern has been aerosols that arrive here from distant shores carried by the wind.

Chin and colleagues set out to investigate how much and what type of aerosols made the intercontinental journey in 2001. The team employed the help of a computer model using known air chemistry and wind patterns to trace a region's aerosols – everything from fossil fuel and biofuel combustion, biomass burning, and volcanic sources, desert dust and sea salt – back to their sources.

"Using the model, we followed the path of aerosols to find out how much is local and how much is from outside a region," Chin says.

Chin and colleagues estimate that between 65-70 percent of surface particulate matter in the eastern U.S. originates from regional pollution aerosols from fuel combustion in North America. The report was in the Nov. 1 edition of the European Geosciences Union's Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

They also found that 30-40 percent of fine particulates in the western U.S. come from local pollution sources. The model results estimated that just 2-6 percent of U.S. surface fine particulates come from fuel combustion particles emitted outside of North America, including Asia and Europe. About 50 percent of surface fine particulate matter in the western U.S. stems from a natural source: dust transported from Asia or from local deserts and organic aerosols from vegetation.

"Our results indicate that controlling regional pollution emissions will be the most effective and most responsible way to manage U.S. air quality," Chin says.

Lynn Chandler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>