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[Air] [Column] All About Fine Dust - (1) The real culprit of fine dust in life!

by Eco Generation | 10-09-2019 16:19 Comments 1 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations



The Real Culprit of Fine Dust in Life!

 

 

By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko

 


We live in a world not free from fine dust; fine dust exists in various forms around us. Commonly known fine dust includes emissions from automobile fuels, engine systems, factory smoke and yellow dust from China.


Here's another surprising fact revealed recently. Until now, emissions from automobile engines have been known to be responsible for fine dust on highways and general roads. This is because despite the bans of old diesel cars, nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are eventually emitted from the combustion process, pollute the air.


It was revealed, however, that car engines are not even a problem. There are genuine culprits that generate more fine dust than vehicle engines. Tires worn out when the car is running, fine powder produced from using the brakes, and dirt from the road surface worn out by being rubbed  against tires have more impact on air pollution. Tires and brake pads contain heavy metals such as zinc, lead, silicate, and cadmium.


This research was conducted by a team led by Professor Reto Giere of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. The research team sampled pollutants from two highways in Germany for one year from 2017 to analyze dust particles: one is Neckartor, the area that has the highest amount of fine dust in the industrial city of Stuttgart, and the other is a more rural area in the state of Baden-Württemberg.


What did the research find? 90% of all the dust particles were related to parts such as tires and brake pads. For example, if the concentration of fine dust generated by automobile engines was 1.9 ㎍/㎥, that by friction between tires and the road surface was much higher at 11.9 ㎍/㎥. How was the rural area? The concentration of dust particles was a whopping 30% lower than that of the highways in general cities. This disproved that automobiles generate a lot of pollutants.


According to a study by the German Federal Highway Research Institute, the amount of fine dust produced by tires mounted on a vehicle is 0.1g per year on average. EMPA, a research institution for testing materials in Switzerland, revealed that automobiles’ braking systems accounted for as much as 20% of the causes of fine dust. Is it not surprising that a single tire and braking device produce so much fine dust?


It is not just about cars. Public transportation such as the subway and trains using steel wheels on rails also produce fine iron powder and fine dust. The Korean Federation for Environmental Movement has announced that the average concentration of fine dust in the subway stations in Seoul is above the level of “bad” at 81.2 ㎍/㎥. I guess now we should wear a mask when taking the subway.


Fine dust does not exist only outside. Contrary to our expectations, there is a lot of fine dust indoors. It is common knowledge that carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are generated when using gas ranges, electric grills, ovens and so on. However, it was revealed that a high concentration of fine dust, enough to cause lung cancer, would be produced when cooking in the kitchen, especially when boiling stew, frying, or grilling meat without the fan turned on. What's more surprising is that even just heating a frying pan without grilling meat can generate harmful gases with concentrations much higher than the “very bad” level in the air. Therefore, please remember to cover the lid and turn on the fan when you cook.


Sometimes, after cooking, we light a scented candle to deodorize the house. But, did you know that this also can cause indoor air pollution? Candles containing chemical components such as artificial fragrance produce complex harmful substances similar to vehicle emissions while burning. You may not have realized that vehicles on the road, cooking at home, and burning candles produce fine dust, because they all go through a combustion process.

 

[Column] All About Fine Dust - (1) The real culprit of fine dust in life!

1 Comments

ALOK DHAKAL

  • ALOK DHAKAL says :
    Nice article! Impressive.
    Posted 12-09-2019 00:59

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