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Forensics & Environment
Airborne Particulates

Historically, airborne particulates have been dealt with primarily by number and size - the numbers of particles within size ranges such as PM10 (airborne particles of 10µm or less) and PM2.5 (particles of 2.5µm or less).  This classification does of course have its uses and is a valuable way of describing airborne particulates but it does lack important information on the composition of particles.  This information is starting to become increasingly valued and is likely to be even more so in the future as understanding develops on the specific effects of particles of different compositions at this size scale.

There is an increasing amount of research being conducted on atmospheric particles.  Researchers working in the field are developing knowledge on how the atmosphere works by studying the particles within it and what effect they have on atmospheric processes.  This work is fed into atmospheric and climate models and has impacts on policy, climate change mitigation plans and potentially forecasting. 

There is a link between a particle’s size and composition and how those parameters affect ice nucleation in the atmosphere.  Particles with different compositions nucleate ice to different extents and so by combining knowledge of the range of particle sizes and compositions with experiments on ice nucleation the effects of those particles on processes such as cloud formation can be determined.

Similar methods are applicable to studies of pollutants with particles of different compositions having different effects when they enter the human body.

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