Clean-air campaigners can't always pin down the source of a pollutant, by no means an easy task at best. Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a way to solve the problem.
They are studying micro-structures in soot that should, in theory, trace each particle's history and source.
The MIT team runs electron micrographs of soot through computers to generate details such as spacing among graphite layers of the carbon particles, which are peculiar to a particular source. With a large enough database, says team leader Adel F Sarofim, such signatures could one day even identify the specific carbons that, say, triggered a patient's lung cancer.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.