Scientists have discovered what many of us have been suspecting: the sun aggravates air pollution and smog levels in cities and your dirty windows do not help at all.
MY DIRTY WINDOWS? YEAP.
Dr. James Donaldson, a University of Toronto chemistry professor and lead author of the study, states that when the sunlight hits overlying dust and grime on surfaces like buildings, statues or dirty windows, it can cause nitrogen gases to discharge and turn into smog.
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“The current understanding of urban air pollution does not include the recycling of nitrogen oxides and potentially other compounds from building surfaces,” Donaldson states. “But based on our field studies in a real-world environment, this is happening.”
HOW DID THEY DO THAT?
On Monday, the team of researchers stated that their experiments verified a hypothesis developed some time before. For their tests, they shined artificial sunlight onto grime samples in order to determine the grime’s effect on chemical output.
The researchers were also able to determine the truth behind the rumor that nitrates in urban filthy areas are inactive. In actuality, they are being removed very quickly: “The lifetime of the nitrates is very, very short,” Dr. Donaldson stated at the conference for American Chemical Society.
The scientists are still working to quantify the extent of sunlight-fueled smog: “It may be quite a significant, and unaccounted for, contributor to air pollution in cities,” Dr. James Donaldson said. He also noted that if his research comes to a suspected conclusion, the understanding of air pollution today would be incomplete: “If our suspicions are correct, it means that the current understanding of urban air pollution is missing a big chunk of information.”
THE EXPERIMENTS IN SHANGAI
Dr. Donaldson announced that he and his team of scientists are in discussion about the commencement of a real-life experiment in Shangai, in an effort to study the influence of varying pollution levels across the world – specifically “in someplace that is ‘really grubby’ and someplace that is ‘really clean.”
Of course, Donaldson is going to take into account weather and climate conditions, in order to discover the various factors that lead sunlit grime to create smog. According to him, what he has found so far in the laboratory experiments indicates that “there could be very different sorts of chemistry happening in dry climates.”