By Brandie Jefferson-Wustl

Researchers used a harmonized approach, incorporating data from multiple satellites and ground monitors with computer modeling to compile a comprehensive, consistent map of pollution across the globe. The new data spans 1998-2018.

Results of their study, which looked tiny particles called at PM2.5 that can make their way deep into a person’s respiratory system, appear in Environmental Science & Technology.

“Prior studies that look at long-term PM2.5 haven’t used data as recent as we have,” says Melanie Hammer, a postdoctoral research fellow in the lab of Randall Martin, professor of energy, environmental, and chemical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. Older data can’t capture the results of many programs aimed at curbing pollution—even if they have been in effect for nearly a decade.

That turned out to be the case in China, where a significant drop in pollution in the recent past was the result of strategies begun in earnest around 2011. Other data sets don’t capture the drop.

Support for this work came from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, and the Health Effects Institute, and the Killam Trusts. The researchers obtained GEOS-Chem input files from the GEOS-Chem Data Portal enabled by Compute Canada.

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Areas of Focus: Environment
Producing and using energy damages people’s health and the environment. EPIC research is quantifying the social costs of energy choices and uncovering policies that help protect health while facilitating growth.
Air Pollution
Air Pollution
Air pollution from fossil fuel combustion poses a grave threat to human health worldwide. EPIC research is using real-world data to calculate the effects of air pollution on human health...