In the summer, dark asphalt roads and roofs absorb heat from the sun and then put it back into the air, making cities get hotter and take longer to cool off, in what’s called the urban heat island effect. But that warmed-up asphalt, it turns out, isn’t just releasing heat: It’s also releasing harmful air pollutants, worsening the air quality in urban areas. advertisement Previous studies focused on the Los Angeles area found that a substantial portion of semivolatile organic compounds in the air wasn’t coming from vehicles, but experts didn’t know what was causing them. Yale researchers wanted to look at asphalt as the possible source. In a study published in Science Advances, they found that common road and roofing asphalts contribute to emissions by emitting secondary organic aerosols—pollutants which are a big component of PM2.5 pollution, which is particulate matter that measures 2.5 micrometers or less, and which has been linked to asthma and other health effects. During hot, sunny conditions, these pollutants evaporate from the asphalt into the air. Researchers heated up asphalt to temperatures between 104 degrees and 392 degrees Fahrenheit. While emissions are possible at lower temperatures, says Drew Gentner, an associate professor of chemical… Read full this story
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