Urban Aerosols

​We have been active in a number of projects aimed at assessing urban air quality and human exposure to airborne particle pollutants. One project, funded by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, focused on assessing the role of diesel generators in human exposure to airborne carcinogens in Beirut. To compensate for electric power production shortages by the national provider, privately-owned diesel generator sets have become ubiquitous in Lebanon over the past decade. Even in dense urban areas it is common for every residential and commercial building to have its own generator. But, given the high background pollution levels here, do these generators actually represent a significant additional burden of inhaled toxicants? We have been measuring time-resolved particle-bound PAH concentrations on balconies of households in Beirut, and correlating these with the operating state of the nearest generator to estimate the added exposure due to generator operation. Measurements are analyzed using a Lagrangian particle dispersion model.