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New Study Analyzes Oxidation Reactions that Produce Secondary Organic Aerosol in the Atmosphere


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that evaporate easily at room temperature. Although many VOCs are synthetic chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants, emission from biogenic sources dominate VOCs in the atmosphere. A significant fraction of VOC emissions are molecules called monoterpenes, which are widely distributed and can break down into secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in the atmosphere. SOA impacts air quality, climate, and human health. A new study, funded by the Climate Program Office’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) Program, recreated oxidation reactions that occur to monoterpenes in nature and produced a detailed comparative analysis of their products. Researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder will use these results to characterize important reactions that occur during the evolution of emissions in the atmosphere which lead to SOA formation. This research, published in ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, contributes to the AC4 Program’s aim to advance the understanding of processes governing atmospheric pollution to ultimately prediction and mitigation.

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