Heathrow a ‘major source’ of ultrafine particulates

Emissions of the tiniest form of air pollutant particles from Europe’s largest airport can be “easily” detected in central London, according to researchers.

Although less clear, the pollution signature of jet aircraft was also detected in Helsinki, Zurich and Barcelona, says a paper published in the journal Environment International and led by the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London (KCL).

Few studies have focused on ultrafine particulates (UFPs), those that have an aerodynamic diameter of 0.1 microns – up to 25 times less than that of fine particulates, PM2.5 and 100 times that of coarse particulates, PM10. There is no specific air quality standard for ultrafines, although there are indications that they are associated with the worst impacts on health, being able to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

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