From: Virginia Tech
Published August 8, 2017 03:51 PM

Virginia Tech researchers discover potentially harmful airborne nanoparticles produced through burning of coal

Environmental scientists led by the Virginia Tech College of Science have discovered that the burning of coal produces incredibly small particles of a highly unusual form of titanium oxide.

When inhaled, these nanoparticles can enter the lungs and potentially the bloodstream.

The particulates — known as titanium suboxide nanoparticles — are unintentionally produced as coal is burned, creating these tiniest of particles, as small as 100 millionths of a meter, said the Virginia Tech-led team. When the particles are introduced into the air — unless captured by high-tech particle traps — they can float away from power plant stacks and travel on air currents locally, regionally, and even globally.

As an example of this, these nanoparticles were found on city streets, sidewalks, and in standing water in Shanghai, China.

Read more at Virginia Tech

Image: Michael F. Hochella Jr. is a University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences with the Virginia Tech College of Science. (Credit: Virginia Tech)

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