Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UCI researchers leading the effort to understand the causes and effects of air pollution

22.08.2002


UC Irvine researchers are leading the effort to understand the causes and effects of one of the world’s leading environmental problems -- air pollution. They are studying both regional and worldwide air pollution issues, ranging from the effects of freeway exhaust to the role dust storms and forest fires may play. UCI is also involved in a large-scale commuter transportation project designed to cut back on auto emissions and is home to the Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory, which continues to increase understanding of the risks air carcinogens present to children. Here are a few current research projects of note.



Large Scale Forest Fires Also Raise Ozone Pollutant Levels

The product of the large-scale forest fires that have plagued the Western United States is easy to see -- thick, dark smoke filling the skies. But downwind, gaseous emissions from fires create a pollutant invisible to the eye, but no less dangerous - ozone. Atmospheric chemist Donald Blake, who studies the impact of biomass burning on the atmosphere, says that when sunlight combines with nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the smoke, resulting chemical reactions form ozone, and lots of it. These enhanced concentrations of ozone can blow around for several weeks, Blake adds. The result is air quality downwind from fires that can reach hazardous levels. Ozone’s effect on humans can range from eye irritation to worsening existing lung conditions such as asthma.


Freeway Exhaust May Accelerate Lung Conditions

Vehicle emissions are responsible for a great deal of urban air pollution, but their effects on chronic lung diseases are not as widely understood. Michael Kleinman, a community and environmental health and medicine researcher, is discovering how environmental exposures in close proximity to sources of vehicle exhaust from heavily trafficked freeways accelerate lung conditions including asthma. Kleinman uses the nation’s most busy freeway interchange, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, for his tests, where he places mice already exposed to asthma-like allergens in specially developed exposure chambers next to the freeway traffic. He also tests exposures at distances progressively further away, 100 and 500 meters downwind from the interchange. He has found that the closer the mice are to traffic, the more prone they are to suffer from lung-based allergic reactions from pre-existing conditions. "Ultrafine particulate matter from the exhaust is 10 times higher next to the freeway than at other testing sites," Kleinman says. "And since diesel trucks make up 20 to 30 percent of the traffic, there may be a correlation, especially since these trucks do not face the same exhaust standards in California that cars do."

Dust in the Wind: More Than Pretty Sunsets

While contributing to the beautiful sunsets enjoyed by Southern California residents last spring, violent dust storms in China’s Gobi Desert had a disastrous effect on Beijing and Seoul, filling the air with enough lung-choking dust to bring both Asian cities to a virtual halt. With expansion of the world’s deserts, dust pollution continues to grow as an air quality threat, making it one of the hottest topics in Earth science. Atmospheric physicist Charles Zender traced these dust storms with his global forecast model that predicts where airborne dust plumes will move and eventually where they will land. "Now we know that dust affects air, sea and land all over the world," he says. "There are few things like this in nature." In addition, Zender says, these plumes also carry other air pollutants that impact global warming and play a greater role in climate change than scientists previously realized.

Eliminating the Pollution of One-Car, One-Driver Commuting

The largest station car project in the nation using advanced technology vehicles is being tested in the city of Irvine to bring the full force of the Internet, fuel cells, electric vehicles, research and shared-use together to solve complex problems like traffic congestion, air pollution and oil dependency. The project, called ZEV(NET, couples the benefits of mass transit on commuter trains with the convenience and flexibility of a personal car. It offers participating commuters zero- and low-emission Toyota vehicles to get from the commuter train station in the Irvine Transportation Center to their place of employment. Once there, fellow employees share the vehicles for short trips during business hours. At the end of the business day, the vehicles are driven back to the transportation center, where they may be used by a returning Irvine resident for the commute home. ZEV(NET eliminates the pollution associated with a one-person-per-car freeway commute. Additionally, solar panels and fuel cells have been incorporated at the transportation center to generate zero-emission electricity on site to charge the electric vehicles. "The ZEV(NET initiative brings together many and varied segments of our community in combination with emerging new technologies," says Scott Samuelsen, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center, which manages ZEV(NET. "This is a unique strategic alliance both within and outside the university that is dedicated to creative and environmentally responsible transportation alternatives for California."

Air Pollution May Affect Children More Harshly

While air pollution can have ill effects on all people, children are likely to face greater risks of developing lung diseases from pollutants in smog. Robert Phalen, director of UCI’s Air Pollution Health Effects Laboratory, has spent more than 20 years studying the link between air pollutants and asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Currently, Phalen is taking part in a large Environmental Protection Agency effort to calculate the lung volume difference between children and adults in relationship to the unique exposures and amounts of pollutants that enter their lungs. Children breathe in more air per pound than adults, and their airways are more efficient in trapping pollutants. "Because of this, air pollution can affect children up to nine times more harshly than adults," Phalen said. "This study will help us learn to predict how air pollution levels will affect children by what we know of their impact on adults. This is important, because asthma has become the No. 1 chronic disease keeping kids out of school." In addition, Phalen’s latest book, "The Particulate Air Pollution Controversy," which looks at the cause and effect relationship between air pollution and human health, will be released this fall.


Contact:
Tom Vasich
(949) 824-6455
tmvasich@uci.edu

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: A TOP-10 PUBLIC UNIVERSITY

Tom Vasich | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.today.uci.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics

06.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

3-D printed kidney phantoms aid nuclear medicine dosing calibration

06.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision

06.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>