Atmospheric contaminants are ubiquitous and have a profound impact on ecosystem and human health. Environmental and health related costs are high with 87% of the global population living in areas with pollution exceeding WHO recommendations, and 10% of global deaths being attributable to air pollution1.
While long term data for established critical air pollutants are readily available, considerable gaps have opened up in the identification, photochemical conversion, transport and impact of poorly characterised (e.g., reactive gaseous mercury) and emerging species (e.g., ultrafine aerosols, biogenic toxins).
Using examples of compounds of anthropogenic and biological origin, I will demonstrate how organics, heavy metals and biological compounds can be assessed using mass spectrometric, spectroscopic and modeling techniques to study local effects, global transport, and health impacts.
I will also highlight how pollutants and their conversion products are tracked from source to sink and propose strategies to address knowledge gaps, such as the assessment of local air pollution, transport modeling results and effects of exposure to biogenic, toxic species.
1 World Bank, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. 2016. Washington, DC.
Gregor Kos has obtained his PhD from the Vienna University of Technology, working on chemometric modelling of mid-infrared spectra for the determination of natural toxins. He worked as a post-doc and later as a research associate in Prof. Parisa Ariya’s lab at the department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University on the characterisation of atmospheric pollutants using chromatographic and mass spectrometric techniques. This included field trips to the High Arctic to study anthropogenic and biological contaminants in snow and air. His current research interests focus on atmospheric reactions related to (urban) air quality and occurrence and transport of anthropogenic and biogenic contaminants.