Size Matters in Air Pollution – But It’s Not Enough


Current regulations on air pollution mainly focus on the mass of particles of a particular size range in a sample, and this has been used as a marker for their threat to human health.

But these air quality standards do not address the medical implications of the very smallest particles – nor other attributes that may be damaging, such as their chemical makeup.

‘(Mass) is indeed a useful metric, but perhaps not enough on its own and laboratory research could help to establish (other) metrics for air quality that are more health-related,’ said Dr Konstantina Vasilatou, who heads the Particles and Aerosols Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS).

The clean air brought about by reduced road and air traffic during coronavirus lockdowns, along with indications that air pollution may be linked with higher coronavirus death rates, is bringing questions about the effect of air pollution on human health to the fore.

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