City Grime Releases Air Pollutant When Exposed To Sunlight

Posted: Aug 18 2015, 5:46am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

City Grime Releases Air Pollutant when Exposed to Sunlight
A study using glass beads to collect grime (above) shows that compounds can recycle from grime back into the air and contribute to pollution. Credit: Alyson Baergen
  • Grime in Cityscape Releases Pollution due to Sun’s Rays

It was found that the grime and gunk in the cityscape releases pollution. That is due to exposure to the sun’s rays.

The study that got carried out proved that sunlight has potent effects. It can cause grime to release pollutants into the air. This was especially so in the city. The smog includes nitrogen oxide compounds. And it goes on to affect buildings and statues in an adverse manner.

It's thought that nitrates got locked into the environment. But this lab study disproves the theory. The recycling of nitrogen oxide compounds is a fact. And it contributes to the air pollution.

The grime and gunk in urban areas is a complex mixture of several compounds. These compounds get released by factories and automobiles. Also included in the list of culprits are other ducts of industrial civilization.

When nitrogen oxides combine with organic compounds, the result is ozone. This is a major part of smog. Smog is smoke plus fog. Scientists had thought that nitrogen oxide got fixated when covered with grime.

But now this hypothesis has gotten proven wrong. Nitrate ions in fact fled grime at a quicker rate than that due to rainfall. The rate was 10,000 times faster.

“The current understanding of urban air pollution does not include the recycling of nitrogen oxides and potentially other compounds from building surfaces,” says James Donaldson, Ph.D.

“But based on our field studies in a real-world environment, this is happening. We don’t know yet to what extent this is occurring, but it may be quite a significant, and unaccounted for, contributor to air pollution in cities.”

The effect of sunlight on grime was almost that of a chemical reaction. Light can convert grime into chemical compounds that drift off into the air in a jiffy. The concept got tested by scientists. The results were as expected.

An example is a comparison between two cities. Leipzig has far greater pollution levels than Toronto. And the onus lies on the exposure of grime to sunlight. Whereas Leipzig is a dirty city, Toronto is clean. The same effect's seen in the air pollution levels of both cities.

“If our suspicions are correct, it means that the current understanding of urban air pollution is missing a big chunk of information,” Donaldson says.

“In our work, we are showing that there is the potential for significant recycling of nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere from grime, which could give rise to greater ozone creation.”

Air pollution often consists of chemicals that have a bad effect on health and the cityscape. The sulphur and nitrogen compounds destroy the surfaces of statues and facades of buildings. And they are harmful to the breathing systems of human beings.

They cause lung diseases and also increase stress levels. The stress and frustration has increased on a worldwide level thanks to air pollution. The world has become a grimy place.

And if present rates of pollution continue pretty soon there won’t be enough oxygen to go around. The progress that technology brings could be offset. Especially by the presence of ten thousand pollutants in the air.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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