Particles from Paints, Pesticides Have Deadly Impact


Air pollution triggered by use of common chemicals, fuels may kill 10 times more people than previously recognized

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world die too soon every year because of exposure to air pollution caused by our daily use of chemical products and fuels, including paints, pesticides, charcoal and gases from vehicle tailpipes, according to a new CU Boulder-led study.

The new work, led by former CIRES postdoctoral researcher Benjamin Nault and CIRES Fellow Jose-Luis Jimenez, calculated that air pollution caused by “anthropogenic secondary organic aerosol” causes 340,000-900,000 premature deaths. Those are tiny particles in the atmosphere that form from chemicals emitted by human activities.

And “that’s more than 10 times as many deaths as previously estimated,” said Nault, who is now a scientist at Aerodyne Research, Inc. His work, published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, builds on findings by CU Boulder, NOAA, NASA, and others that emissions from everyday products are increasingly important in forming pollutants in urban air.

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