Scientists try to find effective ways to identify toxic pollutants in city air

April 19th, 2009 - 2:59 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 19 (ANI): A team of scientists is looking for easier, more effective ways of finding and measuring the toxic pollutants that people actually breathe, especially in cities.

The team is being led by William Vizuete, assistant professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The researchers are looking for easier, more effective ways of finding and measuring the toxic pollutants that people breathe, including developing a portable device that would allow them to use cultured human lung cells to study air in the field where actual pollution occurs.

As well as pollutants that are directly emitted from sources such as automobiles and industrial stacks, people also breathe a mixture of others that are made in the air by chemical reactions.

Pollutants made in the air are typically not measured or even known.

Vizuete and his fellow researchers are studying not only the effects of individual pollutants, but how they affect people in combination with each other.

Studies in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s rooftop environmental chamber, where air quality is examined, have shown that pollutants are five to ten times more harmful when aged in sunlight.

Vizuete and his team are applying new technology to study air pollution and lung cell damage, first in their laboratory smog chambers, then in the field.

This data will help create comprehensive models of air pollution chemistry and toxicity and help identify the pollutants that are harmful to people’s lungs. (ANI)

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