Navigation Links
Unraveling the mystery of Saharan dust migration
Date:8/22/2013

Satellite pictures of Saharan dust clouds have been in the news all summer, but to Shankar Chellam, they have just raised more questions.

How much impact did the Saharan dust have on Houston's air? Is it more toxic than our home-grown dust?

Chellam, a professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, is searching for answers to those and other questions.

Clouds of African dust often migrate across the Atlantic Ocean during summer months, affecting Houston's air quality from mid-June through mid-September. Chellam said it's especially prevalent in late August and early September.

The dust, whipped up by sandstorms in northwest Africa and carried by trade winds across the Atlantic Ocean, takes about 10 days to two weeks to reach the United States and, ultimately, Houston.

Chellam said he collaborates on the project with Joseph Prospero, professor emeritus of marine and atmospheric chemistry at the University of Miami.

Chellam became interested after he noticed "the most curious coincidence" as he was collecting data on industrial air pollution outside plants along the Houston Ship Channel in 2008.

He began the project expecting that the plants would emit a constant amount of pollution, as measured from just beyond their property lines. But he discovered that on some days they emitted relatively little, while emissions were much higher on other days.

"What we quickly realized was that the impact of the refineries varied with time," he said. "We naively had gone into our research expecting that if we took three months of data, we would get an average."

A five-day period in July and August 2008 showed a large variation. That coincided with an influx of Saharan dust, Chellam said.

To determine the actual impact of the Saharan dust required scientific detective work. Chellam and his team determined the "fingerprint" of the African dust, allowing them to differentiate it from other types of pollutants in their samples: industrial dust, vehicle pollutants and smoke from wildfires, among other things.

"There are millions of sources of pollution," he said.

His lab works with African dust collected in Barbados, before it has picked up other contaminants along the route to the United States. Still, he said, the metals in the dust are distinct.

That finding allowed him to determine that a spike in pollution levels in the 2008 readings reflected the arrival of Saharan dust. A paper on those findings has been accepted for publication in in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. In addition to Prospero, his co-authors include Ayse Bozlaker, a post-doctoral researcher working with Chellam, and Matthew Fraser of Arizona State University.

Work by other scientists has linked the dust migration with coral reef stresses and other environmental problems, but the impact on human health is less clear.

Chellam, whose research does not extend into health impact, said he would expect it to affect people with asthma and other respiratory problems.

"But clearly more research is needed," he said. "The composition of the dust is not the same" as other industrial and vehicle dust.

"And if the composition is different, the health impact may be different," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jeannie Kever
jekever@uh.edu
713-743-0778
University of Houston
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Unraveling genetic networks
2. Unraveling the scientific basis of the infant feeding axiom breast is best
3. Unraveling the threads: Simplest cotton genome offers clues for fiber improvements
4. Lets get moving: Unraveling how locomotion starts
5. Unraveling biological networks
6. Scientists solve a 14,000-year-old ocean mystery
7. CSHL geneticists solve mystery of EEC Syndromes variable severity in children
8. Mystery solved: Why people on dialysis have increased risk of heart attack
9. Final chapter to 60-year-old blood group mystery
10. Los Alamos science sleuth on the trail of a Martian mystery
11. University of Miami geologists to address the mystery of an evolution gap in reef corals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/1/2016)... 1, 2016  Today, the first day of American ... to develop a first of its kind workplace health ... Watson. In the first application of Watson ... IBM ), and Welltok will create a new offering ... cognitive analytics, delivered on Welltok,s health optimization platform. The ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... BELL, Pa. , Jan. 25, 2016   Unisys Corporation ... recognition system at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, ... Border Protection (CBP) identify imposters attempting to enter ... do not belong to them. pilot testing of ... out initially at three terminals at JFK during January 2016. ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... January 21, 2016 ... new market research report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), Services, ... forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ... reach USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, at a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... MANASSAS, Va. , Feb. 5, 2016 ... organization, is poised to assist the medical and life ... concerns around Zika Virus infection.   CDC ... --> Zika virus is a single-stranded ... also includes the West Nile, Dengue and Chikungunya Viruses. ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 04, ... ... future of enterprise talent development and compliance training, today announced an interactive ... on Morf Playbook™. The RAPS (Regulatory Affairs Professional Society) accredited interactive course ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016 Beike Biotechnology, ... various medical institutions attended a ceremony in late 2015 ... personalized cell therapy in 2016. --> ... Clinical Translation Platform for Personalized Cell Therapy" was hosted ... Cell Production Center, both subsidiaries of Beike Biotechnology Co., ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: SPEX ) -- an intellectual ... of intellectual property, today provided an update on the ... District of Texas and announcing ... Inter Partes Re-examination ("IPR") proceedings that VTech and ... was initiated on only certain claims of two of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: