Organic Aerosol Evolution

Science  02 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5816, pp. 1189f
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5816.1189f

The abundance and chemical nature of most urban organic aerosols have been thought to be primary in nature—that is, determined at their sources—and essentially static. Robinson et al. (p. 1259) combine observations and models to show that the life histories of organic aerosols are much more complex, and that large numbers of those particles have gone through a cycle of evaporation, photooxidation, and recondensation. Thus, existing theories of organic aerosol distributions, while in many cases match observations fairly well, may often be getting the right answers fortuitously. This improved understanding of organic aerosol behavior could lead to important changes in the ways that they are measured and emissions are regulated.

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