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Sea salt worsens coastal air pollution: study
Date:4/8/2008

Air pollution in the worlds busiest ports and shipping regions may be markedly worse than previously suspected, according to a new study showing that industrial and shipping pollution is exacerbated when it combines with sunshine and salty sea air.

In a paper published in this weeks advance online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers that included University of Calgary chemistry professor Hans Osthoff report that the disturbing phenomenon substantially raises the levels of ground-level ozone and other pollutants in coastal areas.

We found unexpectedly high levels of certain air pollutants where pollution from cities and ships meets salt in the ocean air along the southeast coast of the United States, said Osthoff, who joined the U of Cs Department of Chemistry last August. It only makes sense that this is a problem everywhere industrial pollution meets the ocean, as is the case in many of the largest cities around the world. It also changes our view of the chemical transformations that occur in ship engine exhaust plumes, and tells us that emissions from marine vessels may be polluting the globe to a greater extent than currently estimated.

Dr. Osthoff was part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) team that spent six weeks monitoring air quality in busy shipping areas off the southeastern coast of the United States between Charleston, South Carolina and Houston, Texas, in the summer of 2006. The researchers found unexpectedly high levels of nitryl chloride (ClNO2), a chemical long suspected to be involved in ground-level ozone production along the coast. They then determined that the compound is efficiently produced at night by the reaction of the nitrogen oxide N2O5 in polluted air with chloride from sea salt. With the help of sunlight, the chemical then splits into radicals that accelerate production of ozone and, potentially, fine particulate matter, which are the main components of ai
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Contact: Grady Semmens
gsemmens@ucalgary.ca
403-220-7722
University of Calgary
Source:Eurekalert

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