Urban Air Quality

The increasing influence of non-combustion sources on urban air quality via gas-phase organic compound emissions



Heavy traffic on the limited streets of Marrakech, Morocco

Air pollution episode in Beijing, China

Changing scenes in the streets of Southeast Asia (Hanoi, Vietnam)

Globally, population and energy use continues to grow, countries throughout the developing world are rapidly urbanizing; people are moving to densely populated regions giving rise to numerous megacities throughout the world. Through impacts on cardiovascular and pulmonary health, detrimental outdoor air quality is responsible for 1.3 million deaths per year globally (World Health Organization) and affects hundreds of millions of people. The impacts of this air pollution are disproportionally felt in large urban areas where exposure and the associated health effects scale exponentially with population density.

There are a myriad of sources to consider in megacities and the developing world. Emissions are not always from the sources you may expect…

Large plumes from open cooking with various fuels (Morocco)

The methods by which people produce and use energy for cooking, transportation, and power all varies by region, influenced by habits, culture, and tradition. The fuels they use and the associated emissions are very dependent on socioeconomic factors and availability. The effects of chemistry, biogenic sources (e.g. plants, oceans), and meteorology can be determining factors and need to be accounted for with all these other forces to understand local and regional air quality problems.

A fuel station in rural Cambodia

Transportation modes (Cambodia)

Much progress on air quality has been made in developed nations, but continued research is necessary since guidelines set by the World Health Organization are approached or exceeded in locations worldwide. Air pollution throughout much of the developing world is worsening with increased energy consumption, and emissions and long-range transport are becoming more important on global scales. Understanding major sources and their emissions throughout the developed and developing world is important to address the evermore global problem of air pollution and its impact on climate and human health. Energy choices in developing regions will have major implications over the next few decades with substantial impacts on public health and climate.

A prominent theme within our work is looking at energy and air quality in developing countries and megacities (some of the worst places for air quality globally). We are working to study these air quality issues both physically in these regions doing field measurements and within our laboratory at Yale. In synergy with our other core research areas of energy choices and analytical chemistry, we are striving to understand the implications of energy transitions in these regions for power and transportation, and use new measurement technologies to improve monitoring and measurement capabilities. By combine these ares, we hope to better understand the most important factors regulating emissions and human exposure to pollutants.