Sunlight creates chemical reactions, researchers discover. Next step is to find out what they are and how they affect us.
In an attempt to better understand the urban environment and its components, scientists have discovered that sunlight causes chemical reactions in the dust found on Edmonton roads.
"We found that when you shine light on road dust, it produces a reactive form of oxygen called singlet oxygen," said environmental chemist Sarah Styler. "It acts as an oxidant in the environment and can cause or influence other chemical reactions."
Just what those chemical reactions are and how they affect us is something the assistant professor in the University of Alberta's Department of Chemistry is determined to find out.
"Unlike tailpipe emissions, which are increasingly heavily regulated, road dust is much more complex and comes from many different sources," explained Styler, who conducted the study by examining and analysing road dust collected from Edmonton's downtown core in September 2016, with her research team.
Road dust is made up of components such as exhaust emissions from vehicles, tire tread particles, debris from the road itself, and runoff from nearby parks and yards, said Chelsea Cote, a recent graduate and co-author on the study. As a result, attempts to regulate what makes up the dust on our roads would be extremely complicated--and difficult to quantify
Styler explained that if contaminants in road dust react with singlet oxygen, that means that sunlight could change the lifetime and potency of those contaminants in ways we don't yet understand.
One group of chemicals that could react with singlet oxygen are a set of toxic components of combustion emissions, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
"Our study shows road dust does something--it reacts with light--and now we need to learn just what that means," explained Stephanie Schneider, another recent graduate and co-author on the study.
Next, the team will examine road dust from other places around the city, including residential, commercial, and park areas to better understand if and how the different composition of road dust will influence reactivity," explained Cote.
The paper, "Photochemical Production of Singlet Oxygen by Urban Road Dust," was recently published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.
Katie Willis | EurekAlert!
New mathematical model can help save endangered species
14.01.2019 | University of Southern Denmark
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
21.01.2019 | Life Sciences
21.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
21.01.2019 | Life Sciences