Friday, August 24, 2012

Air pollution has the ability to migrate

Air pollution can migrate from one region to other, even from one continent to other. In fact, U.S. scientists from the University of Maryland have calculated that approximately half of the aerosols that affect domestic air quality originate from other continents including Asia, Europe and Africa.

Most of these pollutants aren't industrial emissions but rather dust from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. In fact, approximately 87.5 percent of total foreign aerosols refer to dust that comes from across the Pacific.

This means that foreign pollution affects the quality of U.S. air and that air pollution shouldn't be looked at as purely regional issue but rather a global issue whose impact is constantly growing.

Winds can carry atmospheric particles thousands of miles, meaning that these particles can impact air quality in other regions. The good news with dust pollution is the fact that its migration occurs at high altitudes, therefore it is unlikely to seriously affect the quality of U.S. air.

This study was the first of its kind in using the satellite-measurement-based estimate of the amount of airborne particles that come to North America from other continents.

This modern satellite technology is equipped with sensors that monitor aerosol plumes across the ocean and measure their composition and particle characteristics. By using these technology researchers are even able to tell the difference between dust and the other types of aerosols (from instance those that originate from fossil fuel burning).

The scientists believe that the amount of foreign dust in the U.S. air will continue to grow in years to come because drought periods will likely become much more frequent because of the ongoing global warming phenomenon.

This latest study is another proof that there are plenty new factors affecting domestic air pollution than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  has accounted for. There is also a strong link between air pollution and ongoing climate change.

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