ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY

Cleansers in clean air

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Science  08 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6431, pp. 1053-1054
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6431.1053-g

Hydroxyl radicals (OH) have been called the detergent of the atmosphere owing to their role as its primary oxidant. Models accurately simulate OH concentrations in polluted air but fail to predict them in more pristine conditions, underestimating their abundance by as much as an order of magnitude and thereby casting doubt on our understanding of their chemistry. Fittschen et al. propose that this is due not to a problem with the models, as is commonly believed, but rather to an artifact of the technique normally used to measure OH. They suggest that ROOOH, produced by the reaction of organic peroxy radicals (RO2) and OH, produces an interference that can cause this underestimation.

Atmos. Chem. Phys. 19, 379 (2019).

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