Armed With NASA Data, South Korea Confronts Its Choking Smog

South Korea faces a chronic dirty air problem that makes it one of the most polluted countries in the world. It’s common to hear that neighboring China is to blame, but a joint study by NASA and the Korean government has found there’s a lot South Korea can do on its own to cut the smog.

On many days of the year, a thick industrial haze blankets the capital city of Seoul, where some 25 million people live in the metropolitan area. The health effects can be seen in hospitals, with patients complaining of wheezing and coughing that won’t go away.

Dr. Kim Sang-heon, who practices internal medicine at Hanyang University Medical Center, says since there’s a clear link between pollution and respiratory illnesses, he preaches smog avoidance to his patients.

“I usually say stay home if they hear it is high,” Kim says.

High concentrations in the air of PM 2.5 — fine particulate matter that can get deep in your lungs — are a relatively common occurrence in Seoul. A ranking released in February shows South Korea had the second worst air quality of all advanced nationsin the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with only Turkey faring worse. South Korea’s air is more than twice as polluted as the other nations’ average.

Seoul’s pollution levels on some days rival those of Shanghai and Beijing, major Chinese cities whose pollution problems are well-documented. In 2016, Seoul’s air quality index was considered unhealthy for sensitive populations (such as children, the elderly and those with existing respiratory conditions) on 78 days.

By comparison, the Los Angeles metro area, which had some of the United States’ highest average PM 2.5 readings in 2016, experienced only two such days, according to an NPR analysis of data released by the Seoul city government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Beijing, by contrast, experienced average air quality index levels that were unhealthy for sensitive populations, or even more hazardous, during 231 days last year.

Shanghai reached those levels 201 times, according to data collected by the State Department at its embassies and consulates in those cities.

Although China is an easy target for blame, as its industrial dust does drift across borders, South Korea wanted to know more about its own pollution causes.

So its government teamed up with NASA last year for the most ambitious sampling and study of Korean air quality to date.

Last year, NASA flew planes at various altitudes above the peninsula, chasing dust for a month.

This summer, NASA scientists returned to Seoul to begin sharing preliminary results.

“We can’t fly over China. So this is a way to sample China and sample Korea, and the Koreans are very interested in working with us,” said Barry Lefer, a NASA scientist and program manager who took part in the study. The U.S. and Chinese governments are rivals when it comes to many military and security issues, which inhibits flyovers.

The big question vexing South Korea is how much of its pollution is homegrown versus carried over from neighboring countries. The answer is complicated.

NASA sampled the air at a time when trans-boundary pollution was low. It cautions it can only model the Korean peninsula’s air based on the data gathered from its sampling. But its models did point to some interesting answers.

“Our conclusion was that the local emissions are a strong source of ozone and small particles,” Lefer said. “The model said that over half of the air pollution is coming from local sources and the rest is coming from other countries.”

Local sources include vehicle emissions, industrial sites and power plants. Lefer says news that a majority of the pollution here is homegrown is actually good in a key way.

“You can’t do anything about the trans-boundary pollution, whereas you can do something about your local sources,” Lefer says.

The government is taking some action now. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is overseeing a fine dust task force and is shuttering 10 of the country’s oldest and most polluting coal plants. The city of Seoul issues fine dust alerts over mobile phones to better inform residents of dangerous days.

Kim, the doctor, believes growing public awareness of pollution is effective in improving the air.

“I hope and I expect some new change will be given to us,” Kim says.

Armed with more data about South Korea’s pollutants, the battle to curb it can come from a place of knowledge.

Pure Air Control Services Will Demonstrate Connection Between IAQ, Occupant Health and Energy Savings at Florida Association School Business Officials (FASBO) Conference

Pure Air Control Services Will Demonstrate Connection Between IAQ, Occupant Health and Energy Savings at Florida Association School Business Officials (FASBO) Conference

St. Augustine, FL – Pure Air Control Services, Inc. is set to exhibit at this year’s Florida Association of School Business Officials (FASBO) Conference being held at the World of Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida, October 10-13, 2017. Located at booth 23, Pure Air Control Services will showcase the latest in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing, analysis and remediation. This includes highlighting each of their divisions: Building Sciences, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory, and Building Remediation Sciences. Also on display will be Building Health Check, LLC and their Do-It-Yourself IAQ Screen Check Testing Kits.

Fasbo conference 2017In its 51st year, the FASBO Conference highlights many educational tracks for executive level school official. Topics include everything from Ethics and HR/Risk Management to Security and Energy Efficiency with many specialized breakout sessions as well. The entire event kicks off with a charity golf tournament, features select vendors, like Pure Air Controls, and ends with the introduction of new officers with the Board of Directors meeting.

For their part Pure Air Control Services Inc. will inform visitors to their booth on the important connection of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) to student performance and absenteeism. More detailed information on that topic can be found in this recent article. Also on display will be the interactive demonstration of the results of PURE-Steam HVAC Coil Cleaning and HVAC New Life Hygienic Restoration that illustrates improvements to air flow which, in turn, increases energy efficiency and can add years of operation life to old or aging HVAC Systems.

Pure Air Controls will also be available to talk about their new cooperative purchasing vehicles through the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) and their Florida Buy Program contract no. 18076 as well as The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) contract no. 170602 and 170702. These co-op contracts are available for all Florida schools to use to procure Pure Air Control Services right away, without going to bid. These vehicles make it easier to get started with Pure Air’s specialized and proprietary services.

“Often schools know that they need to improve IAQ and perform preventative maintenance on their HVAC systems, but there are so many different service options available that offer different results” says Frank Santini, IAQ Solutions Consultant for Pure Air Control Services, “These procurement co-ops offer a consistent contract that is based on our thorough specifications so the schools know the exact service and performance to expect, every time”.

Check out Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in person at booth 65 at the 51st FASBO Conference, October 10-13, 2017 at the World of Golf Village, St. Augustine, FL.

Can’t make the conference? For more information on PURE-Steam, HVAC New Life or Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Alan Wozniak at 1-800-422-7873, extension 802 or email

About Pure Air Control Services
Pure Air Control Services, Inc. was established in 1984 as a small, mechanical, contracting firm and has since set the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis, environmental laboratory and remediation. Pure Air Control Services has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities. Pure Air’s nationally performed services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; a CDC ELITE Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; HVAC New Life Restoration and PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning/Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services.

Founded in 1965, FASBO Inc., is a professional association of school business management professionals. Our mission is to provide programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth, and the effective use of educational resources. FASBO is a network of professionals providing knowledge and solutions.

FASBO represents around 300 school business officials employed in public and private school entities, as well as community and junior colleges and state departments of education. Members include non-instructional employees at the local, state and national levels from specialized areas in school business management, as well as the generalized field of school business administration.


Commentary: Green buildings, Singapore’s natural ally for a greener future

Green buildings look like nice places to live and work in. They may also hold the key to Singapore’s fight against climate change as the Garden City continues to grow, says one design expert.

SINGAPORE: It is the year 2500. We travel with driverless cars, Mars is a much loved tourist spot, and robots live and walk among us as peers.

One catch – we’re all underwater, because sea levels have risen more than six metres, based on projections by some scientists.

Returning to present day, Singapore has just turned 52, and we probably should start thinking about how to avoid the above fate.

Singapore’s meteoric economic rise over many decades has launched a landscape of towering skyscrapers in the compact city-state. Her buildings contribute to almost a quarter of all emissions here. Offices, shopping malls, hotels, education institutions and healthcare facilities consume almost a third of Singapore’s electricity.

The greenhouse gases and carbon emissions generated by these buildings and their power sources are contributing to climate change and changing Singapore’s ecosystem’s natural processes, at an increasingly alarming rate.

The global fight against climate change is real, and Singapore, aptly nicknamed the Garden City, might just have the potential to combat it through technology and green building design.


The clean and green environment that Singaporeans enjoy and are so proud of is part of this Garden City’s legacy, left over from earlier decades of the city placing the highest priority on protecting the environment. 

For a country that has signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement and been a vocal supporter of environment protection, building design can be a key opportunity to contribute.

Design of a building’s exterior can aid in the fight against climate change. Solar panels are seen here on the rooftop of an office building in Singapore. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

Sceptics ask, how does design come into play exactly? Can something that involves so much aesthetic content really make a noticeable dent in an issue as critical as global warming?


An intensively urban community, Singapore uses a significant amount of energy.

But with the Building Construction Authority aiming for 80 per cent of buildings to be Green Mark-certified by 2030, and awareness about climate change increasing every day, we are on the right track to turn that around.

Green buildings, designed to use resources more efficiently and cause minimal damage to the natural environment, have been hailed as a way to cope with the impact of climate change and reduce the environmental impact of urban living.

Energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials and so on are all taken into account in the buildings’ planning, design, and construction.

A few commercial buildings in Singapore have jumped on this green bandwagon – many urban planners now weave greenery throughout the city from green roofs that improve solar performance to cascading vertical gardens and verdant walls.

Just look at the architecture of PARKROYAL on Pickering or the interior landscape of Food Garden in Asia Square.


Asia Square has been oft upheld as a shining example – as host to the largest solar panel installation in Singapore and the first bio-diesel plant in a commercial development in the heart of the city.

Even the dining space in its Food Garden has a green wall that contributes to the building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Green Mark Platinum status.

The wall is designed out of completely recyclable materials, and is water and energy efficient when it comes to self-maintenance.

Condensed water droplets are collected from air handling units and used to water plants and in toilets in the building, saving precious utility bills.

The results are telling. Asia Square performs in the top 10 per cent of buildings in Singapore, in terms of water efficiency, according to the Public Utilities Board. Compared to other standard commercial buildings, Asia Square consumes 35 per cent less energy.

There is a common misconception that going green is costly, as green materials and products can be expensive.

The truth is that it does not need to be. Even if it does cost more initially, organisations should also balance this against the long-term savings they can reap.

The best returns on these investments are realised when environmental considerations are integrated into the process at the start, rather than as a last-minute effort.

Green building design must be thought of as an investment in the future. Every design element is a choice to reduce environmental impact while still being durable enough to prove functional.


The fight for climate change is not just the fight of building planners, large organisations or world leaders. It is a fight all of us are in, and losing will have colossal consequences.

Here are five simple ways that anyone, in particular interior designers, can consciously incorporate to design a green building:


The colour of buildings affect heat absorption. Light-coloured paint can help reflect the sun’s heat away from the building. According to Solar Today Magazine, white walls, for example, gain 35 per cent less heat than black walls, therefore requiring less energy to cool the building. Lighter-coloured and brighter aesthetics are thankfully also on trend.


Singapore is blessed with an abundance of sunlight and making use of this can save huge amounts of energy. For corporate buildings, position meeting rooms at the periphery, and use mirrors to reflect the light from windows.

An open-plan office made possible by natural lighting can also provide alternative work settings and collaborative areas for a conducive work environment.


With smart homes becoming the new norm, going green is easier than ever. Installing smart lighting that can be controlled with timers or light and motion sensors can decrease energy usage drastically. Smart home devices present the next step towards green buildings.


For instance, one could use linoleum rather than vinyl flooring, since linoleum is made substantially from jute, a naturally occurring fibre, and possesses natural bacteria-resistant properties that make it a perfect choice for the upkeep of spaces.

Every finished product should incorporate strategies for reducing energy consumption and highlight opportunities for reducing, reusing, and recycling waste, including numerous recycling bins within the buildings.


Consider how to incorporate environmentally-friendly options that stakeholders may be open to. While not everyone may be invested in fighting climate change because of misconceptions or even ignorance, interior designers can play a part in involving climate change in the conversation.


Singapore has pledged to reduce our emissions intensity by 36 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030. While continuing to play our part in the global community, we must also ensure that the fight against climate change starts from within.

The upcoming Singapore Green Building Week seeks to catalyse behavioural change at the individual, interpersonal and community levels. Now, more than ever, is a good time to think about what exactly is needed to step up our game as a green city.

Most of us are not radical environmentalists, but all of us want a sustainable future.

We have the opportunity to create man-made structures that enhance the existing landscape. Designers therefore have a responsibility to find ways to balance aesthetics and functionality with choices to reduce the environmental impact.

From something as seemingly frivolous as changing colours, to something more strategic like working with various stakeholders to make calculated, eco-friendly plans, design can pave the way to a greener future.

When designers make the conscious decision to choose finishes, furniture and lighting that are sustainable, we increase our chances of having a better quality of life.

Design can be a key weapon to aid in Singapore’s fight against climate change. And it is up to us to design a future where we are not all living underwater.

Derek MacKenzie is managing director of designphase dba which has designed buildings like the new Tiong Bahru Plaza. 


Chemical companies have already released 1 million pounds of extra air pollutants, thanks to Harvey


Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf Coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck, according to public regulatory filings aggregated by the Center for Biological Diversity.

While attention has zeroed in on the crisis at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Tex., other facilities — oil refineries, chemical plants and shale drilling sites — have been reporting flaring, leaks and chemical discharges triggered by Harvey.

Emissions have already exceeded permitted levels, after floating rooftops sank on oil storage tanks, chemical storage tanks overflowed with rainwater, and broken valves and shutdown procedures triggered flaring at refineries.

The chemicals released in the week after Harvey made landfall, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, toluene and xylene.

All seven chemicals are toxic air pollutants documented to harm human health; several cause cancer. Other emissions would bring the total to more than 5 million pounds, the Center for Biological Diversity said.

“Our general concern is the fact that these are relatively unseen environmental threats that don’t normally get recognized,” said Elena Craft, a toxicologist at the Environmental Defense Fund.

Further damage and emissions across the region could be uncovered in the coming weeks as floodwaters recede, and chemical safety experts warned that restarting plants could carry as many dangers as the shutdowns.

“We are not out of the woods yet, not the entire industry,” said M. Sam Mannan, a professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M University and director of an institute that studies safety procedures in chemical factories.

In addition, winding rivers overflowed and washed over some of the waste pits and drilling pads at shale gas and shale oil drilling sites in the Eagle Ford play in Central Texas, according to satellite imagery collected by Sky Truth, a nonprofit group that monitors the environment. The extent of the damage was not clear.

“It’s unsafe and unacceptable for the petroleum industry to be releasing these massive quantities of air pollutants when storms hit,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director of the Center for Biological Diversity. She added that the companies could do more to limit flaring and leaks. “That shouldn’t be common industry practice,” she said.

Companies have two weeks to submit filings to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality so those figures could increase substantially. But the filings so far give a good picture of some of the problems.

The most common problem in oil refineries has been floating rooftops on storage tanks. Because petroleum is flammable, open space in a tank would collect dangerous vapors. So the oil industry storage tanks have round lid-like rooftops that rise and fall with the level of liquid in the tanks. With heavy rains, many were damaged and sank from the weight, leaving crude oil or petroleum products in the open air emitting fumes. In some cases, they have caused spills too.

Rooftops sank at four tanks at the Pasadena products terminal of Phillips 66. Three sank at the Pasadena terminal of Kinder Morgan, a pipeline company. Two were damaged at Shell’s Deer Park refinery. One each sank at Valero Energy Partners’ Houston terminal, Marathon’s Texas City plant and ExxonMobil’s Baytown refinery.

Shell said one leaky tank, discovered during cleanup operations, allowed oil to run out into a surrounding berm. “The leak has been isolated, and we’re in the process of cleaning it up,” said Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon, who added that there was “no offsite impact.”

Flooding has posed other challenges. For a week, BASF, the second largest producer of chemical products in North America, has been struggling to contain rainfall at its Beaumont Agro plant, according to BASF’s filings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The plant produces herbicides.

The company started trucking waste water off the site the week before landfall in an attempt to maximize water storage capacity. Then, unable to contain contaminated storm water and process waste water, the company shut down operations on Aug. 27 and brought in temporary water storage capacity. Nonetheless, the tanks overflowed, spilling chemicals into a diked containment area. The containment area then overflowed to the surrounding ground.

Roberto Nelson, BASF’s senior manager for community relations, said a test of leaking waste water on Aug. 29 “indicated there were trace amounts of nonhazardous process chemicals in the discharge water.” He added that the overflow stopped on Aug. 30.

At ExxonMobil’s Beaumont oil refinery, oil flowed over a 10-foot levee and spilled onto a nearby county road, due to the rising Neches River, an ExxonMobil spokeswoman told the local newspaper, the Beaumont Enterprise. A different spokeswoman, Suann Guthrie said the company was “closely monitoring” and “taking steps” to contain two sheens.

Oil and chemical companies have also been flaring large amounts of gases, beyond levels ordinarily permitted by the Environmental Protection Agency or TCEQ.

On Sept. 2, the TPC Group said in a TCEQ filing that it was working to control the source of gases being flared at its Port Neches facility. It has already emitted an estimated 1,000 pounds of carbon monoxide and 1,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, well beyond the state’s permitted levels. Nitrogen dioxide is an air pollutant by itself and reacts in the atmosphere to form ozone. It also contributes to breathing problems and acid rain.

Huntsman Petrochemical on Sept. 2 reported it had flared an estimated 1,000 pounds of methyl tert-butyl ether, used as an oxygenate in gasoline and regulated in California. The flaring exceeded the Texas limit of 0.04 pounds an hour for the plant.

Total said in a filing Friday that its petrochemical refinery in Port Arthur had no power and over a 48-hour period had flared half a dozen chemicals, emitting sulfur dioxide in one flare that was 50 times greater than the regulatory limit.

“A facility that shuts down may employ flaring of excess gasses that cannot be processed,” Cal Dooley, president of the American Chemistry Council, said in a statement Thursday. “Flaring is an approved way to safely relieve pressure during a unit shutdown and is considered an industry ‘best practice.’ These controlled releases are done with the permission of state and federal regulatory authorities.”

Texas is the nation’s largest producer of chemicals, with $129 billion in shipments and 79,000 employees, according to Dooley’s group.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Saturday reassured residents about health concerns. Yet the city of Houston registered up to 15,000 parts per billion of smog-forming volatile organic compounds in and around the Valero refinery in east Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, as well as at other refineries in the region. These concentrations are at least 10 times higher than health officials deem safe, the nonprofit group EDF said in a statement.

The EDF’s Craft said “EPA said inaccurately and inappropriately that residents should not be concerned about the air quality around Houston.” The Houston area was under alert for ground-level ozone, a lung-damaging air pollutant, for the fourth day in a row, according to the EPA’s Air Now Web site.

Mannan, the chemical engineer at Texas A&M, last year wrote a study ranking Houston-area facilities by their potential to cause harm to the public during a disaster. He said restarting production at dozens of waterlogged plants poses enormous risks for workers and the public.

“Additional events could happen because, if you think about it, a lot of these tanks got submerged in water and a tremendous amount of force is created in 40 feet of water. It can move the tanks around or deform them,” he said.

“Every piece of equipment, every tank, has been battered by the flooding,” Mannan said. “You have to go through and check every piece of equipment. A lot of hard work is still left, and a lot of potential for incidents is still there.”

The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board on Friday issued a “safety alert” urging oil and chemical facilities to take special precautions when restarting after Harvey.

“Restarting a refinery poses a significant safety risk,” said CSB chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland.

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What’s in your building’s air?

whats in your buildings air

Human beings are creatures of habit. We all have certain likes and dislikes. One thing most folks can agree on is the preference to be comfortable while at work or leisure when indoors. Temperature and ventilation certainly play big roles in making the indoor environment comfortable. It’s common to notice changes in temperature and adjust the thermostat to maintain comfort. But detecting humidity, oxygen levels, and indoor air quality issues is always as easy. Headaches, stuffy sinuses and feeling tired might very well be related to the air you breathe. What’s in your building’s air?

Studies conducted by the EPA and Harvard among others have found that humans spend 90% of their time indoors within shared spaces. Some studies have even shown that indoor environments can have higher levels of pollutants than what can be found outside. Many of the indoor pollutants either originate in or can be picked up and redistributed by the building HVAC system.

Under normal operating and maintenance conditions the HVAC system can monitor and correct for a multitude of IAQ conditions in your building’s air. But as maintenance is deferred, the air handing unit can become fouled, foster microbial growth, and begin to under perform, eventually breaking down. It is estimated that a little as 3/16 of an inch of dirt lodged in between the fins across an evaporator coil can decrease the efficiency of the unit by 21%!

Other factors, besides the HVAC system, like new office equipment, furniture, renovations and even additional employees can have a negative impact on IAQ as well.

Luckily, the EPA provides a guide to better understand indoor air quality and what can be done to maintain and improve it. “An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality can be viewed here.

A closer look at indoor pollutants.

When examining the pollutants that can affect indoor air quality there are three main categories to consider: biological contaminants, chemicals/gases and particles.

dirty hvac equipment
Biological Contaminants
Biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi (including molds), dust mites, animal dander and pollen can all affect building health. A properly maintained and cleaned HVAC is key to minimizing the growth and distribution of biological contaminants throughout the building. Bacteria and mold can flourish inside of a cool and damp air handling unit. Typically, a musty odor is associated with microbial growth. If excessive concentrations are left unchecked a entire host of health related issues including asthma and allergies can occur.

Chemicals and Gases
Emissions from products used in the building can also contribute to indoor air quality issues. Everything from cleaning products to office equipment like copy machines can put harmful compounds into air, this includes gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring ventilation rates and controls is important. It is crucial to have a healthy mix of fresh outdoor air exchanged with the indoor air to maintain optimal quality.

Particulates like dust, dirt, paper fibers or other substances can be brought into a building from outside or produced by activities, like printing, that happen inside of the facility. Good housekeeping and proper filtration can alleviate most particulate issues. Remember, filtration should be designed to fit the specific environment and building use.

OSHA goes into detail about these categories and IAQ management in their guide located here.

Be Proactive and Vigilant

Always stay on top of HVAC maintenance and cleaning. Regular hygienic cleaning, like Pure Air Control Service’s PURE-Steam, can prevent IAQ issues emanating from the HVAC system. PURE-Steam is a high temperature, low pressure, cleaning service that kills microbial growth and flushes dirt from deep within the evaporator coils. It can improve overall system performance and cleanliness. Beyond the HVAC system, Pure Air Control Services also provides PURE-Decon room disinfection, that utilizes a hydrogen peroxide and silver mist to get rid of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

If you have never cleaned your HVAC system then IAQ testing would be a good first step to determining any potential issues. Even a simple HVAC Hygienic Assessment can be helpful in looking at the cleanliness and performance of the system regarding building health and energy efficiency.

Finally, be in-tune with your building’s occupants. Pay attention to common health complaints and where they are concentrated. These complaints are often the frontline in the IAQ battle, and provide early detection to get out in front of any issues before they get worse.

Understanding how IAQ is connected to your HVAC system is a critical step in developing a maintenance plan for the optimal health, comfort and energy efficiency of your building.

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To Reduce Exposure to Pollution on Your Commute, Crank The Air Conditioning

New research suggests the best way to minimize your pollution exposure on the commute to and from work is to crank the air conditioning in your vehicle.

Most Americans spend almost an hour traveling to and from work each day. And it is during the commute that people experience the majority of their daily exposure to contaminants.s

To determine how drivers and passengers might mitigate their exposure risks, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis tested what effects the car ventilation system has on passing pollutants.

Scientists tested different combinations and fan and air conditioning settings and monitored contaminant concentrations using portable sensors. A dashboard camera allowed scientists to determine how outside variables — a restaurant exhaust system or a passing diesel truck — impacted exposure.

“As aerosol scientists, we had access to state-of-the-art air monitoring equipment,” Nathan Reed, a doctoral candidate at WUSTL, said in a news release. “Once we began measuring inside and outside of the car, and started getting numbers back, we were able to confirm our hypothesis that by controlling our car’s ventilation we could mitigate some pollutant risk.”

Researchers found that using air conditioning reduced the amounts of the pollutants inside the vehicle by 20 to 34 percent. While the fan and AC both pull air from the outside, the air conditioning system sees air passed across a cold evaporator.

“This cold surface attracts the pollutant particles, and they deposit there, as opposed to diffusing it into the air you’re breathing,” Reed said.

Scientists found the AC was best at minimizing pollution exposure when following a heavy polluter like a bus or big rig.

Of course, using the AC also diminishes a car’s fuel economy, contributing to auto emissions. Scientists recommend deploying the AC only when presented with a high pollution exposure scenario. Once the truck or bus is gone, the driver should role down the windows to allow any buildup of pollutants to dissipate.

Scientists detailed their experiments in a paper published this week in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

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