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 Emissions from road construction could be halved using today’s technology
18.05.2020 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

nachricht When every particle counts: IOW develops comprehensive guidelines for microplastic extraction from environmental samples
11.05.2020 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

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: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Black nitrogen: Bayreuth researchers discover new high-pressure material and solve a puzzle of the periodic table

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Argonne researchers create active material out of microscopic spinning particles

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Smart windows that self-illuminate on rainy days

29.05.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>