Atmospheric Environment (v.43, #1)

Atmospheric Environment Special Issue Fifty Years of Endeavour by Hanwant B. Singh; Peter Brimblecombe; Friso Veenstra (1).

History of atmospheric environment by Peter Brimblecombe; Karen Sturges (2-8).
There have been great transitions in the science of air pollution and science publishing since the journal began as the International Journal of Air Pollution in 1958. Atmospheric Environment witnessed the increased understanding of smog photochemistry in the late 1950s and the emerging fears of ozone depletion in the 1970s. The journal has grown, but not without the need to change and occasionally fragment only to reintegrate at a later date. At 9000 pages a year it represents an enormous editorial task that has had to be undertaken by more professional offices. This transition has been helped through the development of electronic tools, but the editorial offices strive to retain their personal relationship with authors and reviewers. An enhanced international perspective recognises the widening contributions made by scientists beyond Europe and North America.
Keywords: ASAAQ; Elsevier; New directions; Pergamon Press; Robert Maxwell; Urban Atmosphere;

The bibliometrics of atmospheric environment by Peter Brimblecombe; Carlota M. Grossi (9-12).
Bibliometric analysis is an important tool in the management of a journal. SCOPUS output is used to assess the increase in the quantity of material in Atmospheric Environment and stylistic changes in the way authors choose words and punctuation in titles and assemble their reference lists. Citation analysis is used to consider the impact factor of the journal, but perhaps more importantly the way in which it reflects the importance authors give to papers published in Atmospheric Environment. The impact factor of Atmospheric Environment (2.549 for 2007) from the Journal Citation Reports suggests it performs well within the atmospheric sciences, but it conceals the long term value authors place on papers appearing in the journal. Reference lists show that a fifth come through citing papers more than a decade old.
Keywords: Citation analysis; Citation half life; Content analysis; Impact factor;

Air pollution in the industrialised world has in the last 50 years undergone drastic changes. Until after World War II the most important urban compound was sulphur dioxide combined with soot from the use of fossil fuels in heat and power production. When that problem was partly solved by cleaner fuels, higher stacks and flue gas cleaning in urban areas, the growing traffic gave rise to nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds and in some areas photochemical air pollution, which may be abated by catalytic converters. Lately the interest has centred on small particles and more exotic organic compounds that can be detected with new sophisticated analytical techniques.Simultaneously with the development in compounds, the time and geographical scale of interest have increased. First to transboundary air pollution, which in decades and on continents can degrade ecosystems, later to the depletion of the ozone layer and especially to the increasing greenhouse effect with climate change that will change the conditions for nature and mankind on the entire globe. The possibilities to study these large scale phenomena have been greatly enhanced by the development of electronic computers that can handle large data sets and calculate various scenarios.All these processes take place in the thin layer of gases around the Earth, the atmosphere. Although the abatement is often restricted to a single aspect, they are often connected and should when possible be treated as whole.
Keywords: Urban air pollution; Smog; Particles; Organic compounds; Photochemical smog; Ozone layer; Greenhouse effect;

Combustion processes have inherent characteristics that lead to the release in the environment of both gaseous and particulate pollutants that have primary and secondary impacts on air quality, human health, and climate. The emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels and their atmospheric impacts are reviewed here with attention given to the emissions of the currently regulated pollutant gasses, primary aerosols, and secondary aerosol precursors as well as the emissions of non-regulated pollutants. Fuels ranging from coal, petroleum, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas, as well as the biofuels; ethanol, methanol, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), ethyl tertiary-butyl ether (ETBE), and biodiesel, are discussed in terms of the known air quality and climate impacts of the currently regulated pollutants. The potential importance of the non-regulated emissions of both gasses and aerosols in air quality issues and climate is also discussed with principal focus on aldehydes and other oxygenated organics, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and nitrated organics. The connection between air quality and climate change is also addressed with attention given to ozone and aerosols as potentially important greenhouse species.
Keywords: Fossil fuels; Emissions; Coal; Petroleum; Biofuels; Biodiesel; Oxyfuels; Combustion products; Natural gas; Liquefied petroleum gas; Nitrogen oxides; VOCs; Sulfur dioxide; Mercury; Natural radioactivity;

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) warm the surface and the atmosphere with significant implications for rainfall, retreat of glaciers and sea ice, sea level, among other factors. About 30 years ago, it was recognized that the increase in tropospheric ozone from air pollution (NO x , CO and others) is an important greenhouse forcing term. In addition, the recognition of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on stratospheric ozone and its climate effects linked chemistry and climate strongly. What is less recognized, however, is a comparably major global problem dealing with air pollution. Until about ten years ago, air pollution was thought to be just an urban or a local problem. But new data have revealed that air pollution is transported across continents and ocean basins due to fast long-range transport, resulting in trans-oceanic and trans-continental plumes of atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs) containing sub micron size particles, i.e., aerosols. ABCs intercept sunlight by absorbing as well as reflecting it, both of which lead to a large surface dimming. The dimming effect is enhanced further because aerosols may nucleate more cloud droplets, which makes the clouds reflect more solar radiation. The dimming has a surface cooling effect and decreases evaporation of moisture from the surface, thus slows down the hydrological cycle. On the other hand, absorption of solar radiation by black carbon and some organics increase atmospheric heating and tend to amplify greenhouse warming of the atmosphere.ABCs are concentrated in regional and mega-city hot spots. Long-range transport from these hot spots causes widespread plumes over the adjacent oceans. Such a pattern of regionally concentrated surface dimming and atmospheric solar heating, accompanied by widespread dimming over the oceans, gives rise to large regional effects. Only during the last decade, we have begun to comprehend the surprisingly large regional impacts. In S. Asia and N. Africa, the large north-south gradient in the ABC dimming has altered both the north-south gradients in sea surface temperatures and land–ocean contrast in surface temperatures, which in turn slow down the monsoon circulation and decrease rainfall over the continents. On the other hand, heating by black carbon warms the atmosphere at elevated levels from 2 to 6 km, where most tropical glaciers are located, thus strengthening the effect of GHGs on retreat of snow packs and glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya-Tibetan glaciers.Globally, the surface cooling effect of ABCs may have masked as much 47% of the global warming by greenhouse gases, with an uncertainty range of 20–80%. This presents a dilemma since efforts to curb air pollution may unmask the ABC cooling effect and enhance the surface warming. Thus efforts to reduce GHGs and air pollution should be done under one common framework. The uncertainties in our understanding of the ABC effects are large, but we are discovering new ways in which human activities are changing the climate and the environment.
Keywords: Global warming; Air pollution; Greenhouse gases; Aerosols;

Effect of climate change on air quality by Daniel J. Jacob; Darrell A. Winner (51-63).
Air quality is strongly dependent on weather and is therefore sensitive to climate change. Recent studies have provided estimates of this climate effect through correlations of air quality with meteorological variables, perturbation analyses in chemical transport models (CTMs), and CTM simulations driven by general circulation model (GCM) simulations of 21st-century climate change. We review these different approaches and their results. The future climate is expected to be more stagnant, due to a weaker global circulation and a decreasing frequency of mid-latitude cyclones. The observed correlation between surface ozone and temperature in polluted regions points to a detrimental effect of warming. Coupled GCM–CTM studies find that climate change alone will increase summertime surface ozone in polluted regions by 1–10 ppb over the coming decades, with the largest effects in urban areas and during pollution episodes. This climate penalty means that stronger emission controls will be needed to meet a given air quality standard. Higher water vapor in the future climate is expected to decrease the ozone background, so that pollution and background ozone have opposite sensitivities to climate change. The effect of climate change on particulate matter (PM) is more complicated and uncertain than for ozone. Precipitation frequency and mixing depth are important driving factors but projections for these variables are often unreliable. GCM–CTM studies find that climate change will affect PM concentrations in polluted environments by ±0.1–1 μg m−3 over the coming decades. Wildfires fueled by climate change could become an increasingly important PM source. Major issues that should be addressed in future research include the ability of GCMs to simulate regional air pollution meteorology and its sensitivity to climate change, the response of natural emissions to climate change, and the atmospheric chemistry of isoprene. Research needs to be undertaken on the effect of climate change on mercury, particularly in view of the potential for a large increase in mercury soil emissions driven by increased respiration in boreal ecosystems.
Keywords: Climate change; Air quality; Air pollution meteorology; Ozone; Particulate matter; Mercury;

The development of effects-based air quality management regimes by J.W.S. Longhurst; J.G. Irwin; T.J. Chatterton; E.T. Hayes; N.S. Leksmono; J.K. Symons (64-78).
This paper considers the evolution of attempts to control and manage air pollution, principally but not exclusively focussing upon the challenge of managing air pollution in urban environments. The development and implementation of a range of air pollution control measures are considered. Initially the measures implemented primarily addressed point sources, a small number of fuel types and a limited number of pollutants. The adequacy of such a source-control approach is assessed within the context of a changing and challenging air pollution climate. An assessment of air quality management in the United Kingdom over a 50-year timeframe exemplifies the range of issues and challenges in contemporary air quality management. The need for new approaches is explored and the development and implementation of an effects-based, risk management system for air quality regulation is evaluated.
Keywords: Air quality management; Policy; Legislation; Regulation;

Managing air quality in a rapidly developing nation: China by Ming Fang; Chak K. Chan; Xiaohong Yao (79-86).
As the world gets ready to begin the second decade of the twenty-first century, global climate change has been recognized as a real threat to civilization as we know it. The rapid and successful economic growth of developing nations, particularly China and India, is contributing to climate change. The route to initial economic success in China followed that of the developed nations through the development of industries. Unfortunately, China's environmental protection efforts have not been the same as in developed countries because China is vastly different culturally, socially, economically and, especially, politically from developed nations. When China started to deal with environmental concerns in the late 1970s, it took advantage of the experiences of other countries in establishing environmental standards and regulations, but it did not have a model to follow when it came to implementing these standards and regulations because of the abovementioned differences. Economically, China is transitioning from an agricultural base into an industrial base; however, even now, 60% of the population remains farmers. China has been and still is heavily dependent upon coal for energy, resulting in serious atmospheric particulate pollution. While growing efforts have been expended on the environment, at this juncture of its economic development, China would be well served to revisit the traditional “develop first and clean up later” approach and to find a balance between development and protecting the environment. Against this backdrop, a reflective look of the effort to manage air quality from 1949–2008 (with an emphasis on the past 30 years) in China is presented in this paper. The environmental component of the 2008 Olympic Games is examined as a special example to illustrate the current measures being used to improve air quality in China.
Keywords: Air pollution; Air quality; Economic growth; Energy; Coal; Olympic Games; China;

Contemporary threats and air pollution by Philip K. Hopke (87-93).
It is now well understood that air pollution produces significant adverse health effects in the general public and over the past 60 years, there have been on-going efforts to reduce the emitted pollutants and their resulting health effects. There are now shifting patterns of industrialization with many heavily polluting industries moving from developed countries with increasingly stringent air quality standards to the developing world. However, even in decreasing concentrations of pollutants, health effects remain important possibly as a result of changes in the nature of the pollutants as new chemicals are produced and as other causes of mortality and morbidity are reduced. In addition, there is now the potential for deliberate introduction of toxic air pollutants by local armed conflicts and terrorists. Thus, there are new challenges to understand the role of the atmospheric environment on public health in this time of changing economic and demographic conditions overlaid with the willingness to indirectly attack governments and other established entities through direct attacks on the general public.
Keywords: Chemical weapons; Biological threats; Dirty bomb; Public health; War; Nuclear writer;

Atmospheric organic particulate matter: From smoke to secondary organic aerosol by Neil M. Donahue; Allen L. Robinson; Spyros N. Pandis (94-106).
We present an overview of the development of our understanding of the sources, formation mechanisms, physical and chemical transformations of atmospheric organic aerosol (OA) during the last thirty years. Until recently, organic particulate material was simply classified as either primary or secondary with the primary component being treated in models as nonvolatile and inert. However, this oversimplified view fails to explain the highly oxygenated nature of ambient OA, the relatively small OA concentration gradients between urban areas and their surroundings, and the concentrations of OA during periods of high photochemical activity. A unifying framework for the description of all components based on their volatility distribution (the volatility basis set) can be used for the treatment of a wide range of processes affecting organic aerosol loadings and composition in the atmosphere. These processes include direct organic particle and vapor emissions, chemical production of organic PM from volatile precursors, chemical reactions (aging) in all phases, as well as deposition of both particles and vapors and chemical losses to volatile products. The combination of this new framework with the recent results of laboratory studies can resolve some of the discrepancies between OA observations and laboratory results. The mass balance of the organic material as a function of its volatility is investigated and used to frame the corresponding constraints on the system. Finally we revisit the traditional definitions of primary and secondary organic aerosol and propose a new set of terms and definitions based on the improvements of our understanding.

Vegetation fire emissions and their impact on air pollution and climate by Bärbel Langmann; Bryan Duncan; Christiane Textor; Jörg Trentmann; Guido R. van der Werf (107-116).
Gaseous and particulate emissions from vegetation fires substantially modify the atmospheric chemical composition, degrade air quality and can alter weather and climate. The impact of vegetation fire emissions on air pollution and climate has been recognised in the late 1970s. The application of satellite data for fire-related studies in the beginning of the 21th century represented a major break through in our understanding of the global importance of fires. Today the location and extent of vegetation fires, burned area and emissions released from fires are determined from satellite products even though many uncertainties persist. Numerous dedicated experimental and modeling studies contributed to improve the current knowledge of the atmospheric impact of vegetation fires. The motivation of this paper is to give an overview of vegetation fire emissions, their environmental and climate impact, and what improvements can be expected in the near future.
Keywords: Vegetation fires; Peat burning; Emission inventories; Air pollution; Climate impact;

Changes of emissions and atmospheric deposition of mercury, lead, and cadmium by Jozef M. Pacyna; Elisabeth G. Pacyna; Wenche Aas (117-127).
This paper reviews the information on trends of past emissions of mercury, lead, and cadmium in Europe, as well as examines current levels and future scenarios of these emissions. The impact of various factors on emission changes is discussed including the implementation of various strategies of emission controls in Europe. Future emissions are forecasted on the basis of various scenarios of economy growth in Europe, implementation of European and global legislation (e.g. the Kyoto agreement), population changes, etc.Changes of emissions of mercury, lead, and cadmium are then related to the changes of concentrations of these contaminants in air and precipitation samples at selected stations in Europe. It can be concluded that the reduction trends of anthropogenic emissions of cadmium and lead in Europe are similar to the reduction trends of air concentrations of these metals during the last 2 decades. Somewhat different relationship has been noted for changes in emissions and precipitation. In general for Europe, 60% reduction of Cd emissions was met by about 45% reductions of Cd concentrations in precipitation at the studied stations during the last 2 decades.There is a potential for further reduction of these emissions until the year 2010 up to about 37% for Cd, 51% for Pb, and 49% for Hg as estimated within various emission scenarios presented in the paper.
Keywords: Heavy metals; Atmospheric emission; Anthropogenic sources; Emission trends; Emission scenarios; Air concentrations; Precipitation; Europe;

Personal exposure of children to air pollution by M.R. Ashmore; C. Dimitroulopoulou (128-141).
Changes over recent decades in outdoor concentrations of air pollutants are well documented. However, the impacts of air pollution on an individual's health actually relate not to these outdoor concentrations but to their personal exposure in the different locations in which they spend time. Assessing how personal exposures differ from outdoor concentrations, and how they have changed over recent decades, is challenging. This review focuses on the exposure of children, since they are a particularly sensitive group. Much of children's time is spent indoors, and childhood exposure is closely related to concentrations in the home, at school, and in transport. For this reason, children's personal exposures to air pollutants differ significantly from both those of adults and from outdoor concentrations. They depend on a range of factors, including urbanisation, energy use, building design, travel patterns, and activity profiles; analysis of these factors can identify a wider range of policy measures to reduce children's exposure than direct emission control. There is a very large variation in personal exposure between individual children, caused by differences in building design, indoor and outdoor sources, and activity patterns. Identifying groups of children with high personal exposure, and their underlying causes, is particularly important in regions of the world where emissions are increasing, but there are limited resources for environmental and health protection. Although the science of personal exposure assessment, with the associated measurement and modelling techniques, has developed to maturity in North America and western Europe over the last 50 years, there is an urgent need to apply this science in other parts of the world where the effects of air pollution are now much more serious.
Keywords: Personal exposure; Air pollution; Children; Indoor air quality;

Air pollution and mortality: A history by H.R. Anderson (142-152).
Mortality is the most important health effect of ambient air pollution and has been studied the longest. The earliest evidence relates to fog episodes but with the development of more precise methods of investigation it is still possible to discern short-term temporal associations with daily mortality at the historically low levels of air pollution that now exist in most developed countries. Another early observation was that mortality was higher in more polluted areas. This has been confirmed by modern cohort studies that account for other potential explanations for such associations. There does not appear to be a threshold of effect within the ambient range of concentrations. Advances in the understanding of air pollution and mortality have been driven by the combined development of methods and biomedical concepts. The most influential methodological developments have been in time-series techniques and the establishment of large cohort studies, both of which are underpinned by advances in data processing and statistical analysis. On the biomedical side two important developments can be identified. One has been the application of the concept of multifactorial disease causation to explaining how air pollution may affect mortality at low levels and why thresholds are not obvious at the population level. The other has been an increasing understanding of how air pollution may plausibly have pathophysiological effects that are remote from the lung interface with ambient air. Together, these advances have had a profound influence on policies to protect public health. Throughout the history of air pollution epidemiology, mortality studies have been central and this will continue because of the widespread availability of mortality data on a large population scale and the weight that mortality carries in estimating impacts for policy development.
Keywords: Air pollution; Mortality; History;

Changes in indoor pollutants since the 1950s by Charles J. Weschler (153-169).
Over the past half-century there have been major changes in building materials and consumer products used indoors. Composite-wood, synthetic carpets, polymeric flooring, foam cushioning, plastic items and scented cleaning agents have become ubiquitous. The same is true for mechanical and electrical appliances such as washer/dryers, TVs and computers. These materials and products emit an array of chemicals including solvents, unreacted monomers, and additives. The consequent changes in emission profiles for indoor pollutants have been accompanied by modifications in building operations. Residences and non-residences are less ventilated than they were decades ago. Air-conditioned buildings are more numerous, especially in certain parts of the world. Most of these recirculate a high fraction of their air. The personal habits of building occupants, including the fraction who smoke indoors, have also changed. Taken together, these changes have altered the kind and concentrations of chemicals that occupants are exposed to in their homes, workplaces and schools. Since the 1950s, levels of certain indoor pollutants (e.g., formaldehyde, aromatic and chlorinated solvents, chlorinated pesticides, PCBs) have increased and then decreased. Levels of other indoor pollutants have increased and remain high (e.g., phthalate esters, brominated flame-retardants, nonionic surfactants and their degradation products). Many of the chemicals presently found in indoor environments, as well as in the blood and urine of occupants, were not present 50 years ago. Given the public's exposure to such species, there would be exceptional value in monitoring networks that provided cross-sectional and longitudinal information regarding pollutants found in representative buildings.
Keywords: Air conditioning; Body burden; Building materials; Endocrine disrupters; Flame-retardants; Indoor chemistry; Organics; Pesticides; Plasticizers; Smoking;

Endocrine disrupting chemicals in indoor and outdoor air by Ruthann A. Rudel; Laura J. Perovich (170-181).
The past 50 years have seen rapid development of new building materials, furnishings, and consumer products and a corresponding explosion in new chemicals in the built environment. While exposure levels are largely undocumented, they are likely to have increased as a wider variety of chemicals came into use, people began spending more time indoors, and air exchange rates decreased to improve energy efficiency. As a result of weak regulatory requirements for chemical safety testing, only limited toxicity data are available for these chemicals. Over the past 15 years, some chemical classes commonly used in building materials, furnishings, and consumer products have been shown to be endocrine disrupting chemicals – that is they interfere with the action of endogenous hormones. These include PCBs, used in electrical equipment, caulking, paints and surface coatings; chlorinated and brominated flame retardants, used in electronics, furniture, and textiles; pesticides, used to control insects, weeds, and other pests in agriculture, lawn maintenance, and the built environment; phthalates, used in vinyl, plastics, fragrances, and other products; alkylphenols, used in detergents, pesticide formulations, and polystyrene plastics; and parabens, used to preserve products like lotions and sunscreens. This paper summarizes reported indoor and outdoor air concentrations, chemical use and sources, and toxicity data for each of these chemical classes. While industrial and transportation-related pollutants have been shown to migrate indoors from outdoor sources, it is expected that indoor sources predominate for these consumer product chemicals; and some studies have identified indoor sources as the predominant factor influencing outdoor ambient air concentrations in densely populated areas. Mechanisms of action, adverse effects, and dose–response relationships for many of these chemicals are poorly understood and no systematic screening of common chemicals for endocrine disrupting effects is currently underway, so questions remain as to the health impacts of these exposures.
Keywords: Indoor environment; Flame retardants; Plastics; Exposure; Toxicology;

Impaired visibility: the air pollution people see by Nicole Pauly Hyslop (182-195).
Almost every home and office contains a portrayal of a scenic landscape whether on a calendar, postcard, photograph, or painting. The most sought after locations boast a scenic landscape right outside their window. No matter what the scene – mountains, skyscrapers, clouds, or pastureland – clarity and vividness are essential to the image. Air pollution can degrade scenic vistas, and in extreme cases, completely obscure them. Particulate matter suspended in the air is the main cause of visibility degradation. Particulate matter affects visibility in multiple ways: obscures distant objects, drains the contrast from a scene, and discolors the sky. Visibility is an environmental quality that is valued for aesthetic reasons that are difficult to express or quantify. Human psychology and physiology are sensitive to visual input. Visibility has been monitored throughout the world but there are few places where it is a protected resource. Existing health-based regulations are weak in terms of visibility protection. Various techniques, including human observation, light transmission measurements, digital photography, and satellite imaging, are used to monitor visibility. As with air pollution, trends in visibility vary spatially and temporally. Emissions from the developing world and large scale events such as dust storms and wildfires affect visibility around much of the globe.

Assessment and regulation of odour impacts by Jim A. Nicell (196-206).
Decades of experience support the inclusion of odours in the list of contaminant types that must be regulated by government. In many jurisdictions, odour impacts are regulated under the nuisance provisions of common law. However, the explicit conditions that establish whether a nuisance condition exists are not easily defined. Due to this shortcoming, there is a need to introduce objectivity into odour impact assessments and odour limits. While individual responses to odours are highly variable and can result in a variety of effects, generally the impacts of odours arise from a variety of interacting factors, collectively known as FIDOL: frequency, intensity, duration, offensiveness, and location. In view of the need to prevent or mitigate such impacts, an approach to odour regulation is proposed in which the protection of the public from odour impacts is accomplished based on the FIDOL approach. This involves the introduction of an objective odour limit, as follows: “Facilities that are identified as sources of potentially offensive odours shall ensure that the 10-min average concentration of odour resulting from all sources at the facility and determined in accordance with accepted procedures, shall be less than 1 odour unit 99.5% of the time at the most impacted sensitive receptor”. It is argued that the proposed limit would provide the public with an understanding of the degree of protection from odours that is to be provided through regulations and would provide industries with a basis for designing their facilities to minimize impact at the design stage. Such limits would also provide industries with benchmarks against which they can gauge their success at preventing or mitigating odour impacts and for evaluating the effectiveness of odour control technologies.
Keywords: Odour impact assessment; FIDOL approach; Contaminants; Regulation; Air pollution; Jurisdiction;

Air pollution is a thoroughly hybrid phenomenon. It is composed of inseparable physical, scientific, cultural, social, economic and political dimensions. It is both an object of environmental science and embedded in our everyday social and cultural worlds. Nevertheless, much air pollution scholarship focuses solely on the physical dimensions of air pollution which are expressed quantitatively and pays little or no regard to the identities, discourses, bodies and emotions which constitute and are constituted by air pollution as a physical reality. This article argues for a more reflexive and hybrid approach to air pollution research which bridges intellectually confining binaries. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour and other actor–network theorists, it argues that if we can let go of a foundational nature, disrupt our humanism and take non-scientific knowledges seriously, we might develop a new respect for the atmospheric environment and begin the task of building a better common world.
Keywords: Air pollution; Culture; Nature; Science; Actor-network theory; Latour;