Scientists suggest new method to track pollution from cooking

Washington: Researchers have found a new way to track pollution from cooking, an important source of pollution in urban environments.

The study was published in the journal — Geophysical Research Letters.
Currently, the most effective method to identify and quantify cooking organic aerosol (COA) is through positive matrix factorisation of COA mass spectra from aerosol mass spectrometer measurements.

However, for the widely used low mass resolution aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ACSM), it is often challenging to separate COA from traffic-related organic aerosol (HOA) due to the similarity of their unit mass resolution spectra.

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“Considering that ACSM has been increasingly deployed worldwide for routine measurements of aerosol particle composition, our study might have significant implications for better source apportionment of OA and exposure studies in the future,” said Yele Sun of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Sun and his team found that black carbon (BC) is a good tracer to separate HOA and COA. By applying the BC tracer method to several datasets in megacities of Beijing and Nanjing, they found that COA contributed 15-27 per cent to total organic aerosol in summer and even more than 10 per cent during the heating period with a significant enhancement of coal combustion emissions.

COA is also an important contribution of OA in urban areas globally, on average contributing 15-20 per cent. Their studies suggest that air quality improvements in developing countries could benefit substantially from the reduction of cooking emissions.

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