January 12, 2021
A new book co-authored by William Vizuete, PhD, associate professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Vikram Rao, PhD, executive director of the Research Triangle Energy Consortium and advisor to RTI International, highlights the dangers of airborne particulate matter and presents strategies to address air quality issues.
The book, “Particulates Matter: Impact, Measurement, and Remediation of Airborne Pollutants,” was released in December 2020 and co-published by Elsevier and RTI Press. It is part of the Emerging Issues in Analytical Chemistry series.
“We write in the preface that airborne particulate matter is arguably the single greatest public health scourge of our time,” said Rao. “That’s why we felt so compelled to write this book. The costs of air pollution are far-reaching, but — as we argue in the book — there are reasons for optimism. Addressing the issue is possible with a combination of technology, public policy and societal acceptance.”
The book’s release comes at a time of heightened concerns about air quality. Australia’s bushfires became international news in 2019 and early 2020 and a turbulent wildfire season in the western United States in late 2020 brought renewed attention to the issue.
“Possibly the most illuminating insight we got in writing this book was the importance of nano-sized particles, or ultrafine particles,” said Vizuete. “We report on studies providing evidence that these small particles may be the most toxic component of PM2.5. Current regulations of PM2.5 are based on the amount of mass, and given the relative lack of mass in ultrafines, these regulations may prove to be inadequate to protect human health.”
Rao and Vizuete begin the book with a description of particulate matter and how it forms and is detected, and they discuss its principal sources. They also outline the challenges posed, particularly in the area of health. They transition to engineered means to improve conditions before concluding with a road map for new research and potential policy changes.
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