Birmingham University boosts understanding of SVOCs in exhaust particulates using GC×GC–TOF MS

The health and environmental impact of particles released from vehicle exhaust have been reckoned to result in an annual cost to the European Union of over 600 billion euros. We talk to Dr Salim Alam at the University of Birmingham, to find out about how GC×GC–TOF MS can help improve predictive models of pollution and so tackle this major threat to health.

You’re currently involved in the ‘FASTER’ project. What’s it all about?

‘FASTER’ is funded by the EU, and has the full title ‘Fundamental studies of the sources, properties and environmental behaviour of exhaust nanoparticles from road vehicles’. It’s all being conducted at the University of Birmingham, and is being led by Professor Roy Harrison from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

What does the project aim to do?

It’s looking at exhaust-derived particles in the atmosphere, and in particular the semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) they contain. Until now, there has been insufficient knowledge of the properties of these components, meaning that atmospheric models ignore or over-simplify their contribution. We hope to generate better-quality information about these compounds, which will feed into more accurate models of urban pollution.

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