Understanding Relevant Emissions and Atmospheric Formation Processes for Toxic Air Pollutants

Photo credit: Diliff, via Wikipedia Commons

Reducing air pollution is vital for the protection of public health. Short-term effects of polluted air include, interfering with being able to breathe deeply during exercising and impairing visibility from haze. Long-term effects for individuals may be a lifetime burden of reduced lung function because they don’t fully develop due to pollution exposure during childhood. Air pollution has also been linked to premature death from heath attacks.

Robert Harley, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkley, spoke about a model use to understand the emissions and atmospheric formation processes for formaldehyde pollutants at the SOCAAR Seminar on March 28th. Continue reading

Airborne interactions between viruses and PM2.5 as an unexplored modifier of viral viability

Photo credit: www.lung.ca

Millions of people die each year from long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, classified as PM2.5. Studies have also shown a correlation between influenza-like illness and increased PM2.5. Although it’s well known that microorganisms exist in particulate matter (bioaerosols), the infectivity of viruses when they interact with particulate matter is relatively unknown. At the SOCAAR Seminar on March 7, Dr. Nicolas Groulx, a Postdoctoral Intern in the Department of Microbiology & Division of Infectious Diseases at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Research Institute and the University of Toronto, spoke about the effects of environmental pollutants on the infectivity of viruses in the air. Continue reading

Air quality and energy efficiency: Quantitative connections and provincial programs

Source: OPG website

Many energy conservation programs are driven by the goal of reducing carbon emissions. But air quality is also an important factor to be considered when implementing energy conservation programs. Dr. Andrew Knox, who works with CLEAResult, spoke at the SOCAAR Seminar on February 7th about the value energy conservation can provide to reducing air quality externalities. Continue reading

MURB Research at Building Energy and Indoor Environment Lab

Toronto has a high concentration of multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) with the bulk that were built during the 1960s and 1970s. Today, these buildings are mostly owned by social housing and around 29 per cent of all rental units in Toronto are social housing MURBs. Current issues with MURBs are linked to energy usage not being considered when these buildings were built and also not being well maintained. Toronto is now In the midst of a second boom for MURBs but there is limited data on how the newer MURBs are performing.

At the SOCAAR Seminar on March 1st, Dr. Marianne Touchie, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Departments of Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering spoke about why energy retrofits of MURBs should take a comprehensive and not piecemeal approach.
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