Idling jets pollute more than thought | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

Idling jets pollute more than thought

Sunlight turns oily emissions into potentially toxic particles

By
4:40pm, May 10, 2011

Airports can pose a far bigger threat to local air than previously recognized, thanks to the transformative power of sunlight.

In the first on-tarmac measurements of their kind, researchers have shown that oil droplets spewed by idling jet engines can turn into particles tiny enough to readily penetrate the lungs and brain.

Allen Robinson of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his team collected the pollution spewed from a plane powered by one of the most common types of commercial jet engines as it operated at different loads. Though jet engines operating at full power produce mostly solid particles, at low engine loads — such as when a plane idles at the gate or on the runway — emissions are predominantly in the form of microscopic droplets.

The researchers piped the engine’s exhaust into a 7-cubic-meter covered Teflon bag. When the bag was full the researchers uncovered it, allowing sunlight to fire up chemical reactions that w

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content