Volatile chemical products (VCPs), including pesticides, cleaning agents, coatings, and more, create emissions that contribute to urban air pollution. These emissions contain molecules called monoterpenes, which break down into secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in the atmosphere. Recent research has focused on determining primary sources of monoterpenes to better mitigate the eventual impact of SOA on air quality, climate, and human health. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Boulder, and NOAA’s Chemical Sciences Laboratory conducted observations in Atlanta, Georgia for nine months in 2020 and 2021, examined the sources of these pollutants, and compared them to existing inventories. The study, funded in part by the Climate Program Office’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) Program, finds VCP sources contribute to 26% of monoterpenes in the summer and 53% in the winter. Their data shows that certain existing inventories provide better estimates of human-caused monoterpene emissions than others, and also provides evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic caused minimal impact on these emissions. Published in Atmospheric Environment, this research adds to the growing body of work supported by the AC4 program to characterize and manage urban atmospheric pollution.
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