Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Network to Examine the Power of Aerosols

30.09.2009
They’re tiny, tiny, tiny—no bigger than 2.5 microns or about 20 times smaller than the diameter of an average human hair—and yet they have the potential to change the way clouds form and to affect rain and snowfall patterns. They heat or cool parts of the atmosphere. And they get sucked deep into our lungs.

They’re called aerosols, miniscule particles and droplets that float in the global atmosphere. And they’re the focus of a new national research network that includes Dalhousie University researchers.

The Canadian Aerosol Research Network (CARN) has been started with $15 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, governmental agencies and industrial partners. The money will include creating infrastructure for the Atlantic Aerosol Research Centre, to be based at Dalhousie University on the east coast, the University of British Columbia Centre for Aerosol Research on the west coast, and the Southern Ontario Centre for Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto.

“We’re interested in what’s in those particles,” says Judy Guernsey, one of the lead investigators with CARN and associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine. “They could be metal oxides, combustion byproducts, dust, soil, sea salt spray, oil droplets… We’re interested in how they behave in the air, their chemical reactions, and how they behave once we breathe them in.”

Aerosols, both solids and liquids, are generated both naturally and as a result of human activities. Volcanic activity, forest fires, wind blown soil, mold, and marine-derived particles such as sea spray and gaseous emissions from phytoplankton and sea weed are the most common natural sources of aerosols.

Human-produced aerosols come primarily from smoke, such as coal-burning power plants and the internal combustion engines of cars, trucks and ships. Pollutant gases such as volatile organic compounds, oxides of sulfur and nitrogen emitted by fossil fuel combustion react with other gases, such as ammonia from agricultural activity, to generate secondary aerosols and ground-level ozone as a result of complex chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Because of their small size, aerosols can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs and lead to such health problems as asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, there is strong evidence now that aerosols emitted by vehicles actually exacerbate asthma.

One of the main themes of the Atlantic Aerosol Research Centre and CARN is to disentangle which aerosols are natural and which are the result of human activity. “We want to know how they behave in the atmosphere over time and ultimately how these different aerosols impact health and the environment,” says Mark Gibson, senior research scientist with CARN and an environmental health chemist.

The funding ($4.2 million for Dalhousie) will go to setting up a permanent laboratory for the research within the Faculty of Medicine, acquiring some high-powered equipment that will process air pollution data acquired by satellites, and modeling the spatial variability of air pollution locally, nationally and even globally. A new environmental health faculty member will be recruited to help direct the work of the network. The centre is truly cross-disciplinary, drawing expertise from the Departments of Community Health and Epidemiology, Physics and Atmospheric Science, Chemistry, Oceanography, Civil Engineering and the College of Sustainability.

“It’s very exciting for us—we’ll have the first fully equipped research laboratory dedicated to studying environmental health in Atlantic Canada,” says Dr. Guernsey.

Dr. Guernsey and her colleague Dr. Gibson have laid the groundwork for aerosol research through their work with the Atlantic RURAL Centre. They’re currently engaged in studies for Health Canada examining the residential indoor air quality of 50 Halifax homes, wood smoke exposure in the Annapolis Valley and “fugitive dust,” airborne particles from contaminated sites such as former gold mines.

“Once the lab is set up, there will be spin offs. We’ll be able to look at any toxic agent(s) found in water, food, soil or the air,” says Dr. Gibson.

“And not just here in Atlantic Canada,” adds Dr. Guernsey. “One of our colleagues is now examining personal exposure to poor air quality in rural Kenya and we are planning similar research in India.”

Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.dal.ca

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

nachricht What makes erionite carcinogenic?
13.01.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>