Vortrag im Rahmen der Chemisch Physikalischen Gesellschaft
Air pollution by microscopic particles (aersosols) is one of the biggest environmental problems today, especially in developing counties and Asia, causeing illness and death of millions yearly. Understanding the of organic aerosols, as well as their effect on human health are among the biggest challenges in aerosol research today. After inorganic aerosols were reduced successfully, organic compounds have in many places become the dominant aerosol component, and the complex chemistry of organic aerosols prevents efficient reduction strategies. Many open questions remain regarding the formation, transformation and effects of organic aerosols and new research approaches are needed to answer these questions.
The presentation will focus on the potential of carbon isotopes to shed new light on the sources of organic aerosols. The radioactive carbon isotope 14C allows to distinguish fossil fuel sources of aerosol from contemporary sources of aerosol. The stable carbon isotope 13C can trace several other important sources. Results from recent isotope studies in the Netherlands, Brazil, Lithuania, and China will be used to illustrate the promise of these methods, and crucial open research questions will be highlighted.