New Field Project Assessing the Evolution of Atmospheric Pollution in the New York City Area


Study will gather data on real-world vehicular and non-vehicular VOC emissions and the products of their chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Pollution in urban centers has historically been dominated by combustion-related sources of emissions, like motor vehicles, but recent air quality research demonstrates that emissions from combustion-related sources are declining while non-combustion-related emissions are increasing from sources like volatile chemical products (VCPs). This trend is evident in data from certain types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted in vehicle exhaust as well as household products and commercial or industrial applications.

These complex non-combustion-related sources include chemicals used for construction materials, solvents, paints, consumer and hygiene products, and petroleum-derived products. They increasingly impact urban air quality as primary pollutants and as reactive precursors to secondary air pollution. In general, organic compounds and VOCs are precursors to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) and ozone, which are created in the atmosphere instead of being emitted directly. More studies on non-traditional pollutant sources are being conducted, and findings indicate that mitigating these sources is increasingly important for improvement of urban air quality.

To better understand these new sources, researchers from Yale University, Aerodyne Research Inc., University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan, and College of William and Mary are conducting a field campaign in the Greater New York City Metropolitan Area, funded by CPO’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle and Climate (AC4) program.

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