Fog? The chimneys pollute more

Organic aerosol (OA) is a dominant component of atmospheric aerosol worldwide, and it is recognized as a key factor affecting air quality and possibly climate. Observations indicate that more than one-half of the global OA is of secondary origin. Traditional models typically underpredict secondary organic aerosol (SOA) mass, suggesting that a complete knowledge of SOA formation mechanisms is lacking. We show that aqueous-phase processing of biomass-burning emissions contributes to SOA formation. Such aqueous SOA absorbs UV and visible light more efficiently that other OA components. Aqueous chemistry processing of biomass-burning emissions should be taken into account in air quality and climate models for a correct description of the global OA budget and its climate-relevant optical properties.

"The fine particles, or atmospheric aerosols, are a threat to human health: in Italy they are responsible for a reduction of more than one year of life expectancy, while in Europe, they are causing more than 300,000 deaths per year," explains Stefania Gilardoni ISAC-CNR, among the authors of the study. "The organic aerosols constitutes more than 50% of fine particles. It is therefore a decisive factor in air quality and climate; experimental observations indicate that more than half comes from secondary origin, ie produced and released into the atmosphere by physical and chemical processes still mostly unknown since still under research."

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Direct observation of aqueous secondary organic aerosol from biomass burning emissions, Published on: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Stefania Gilardoni