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Gas from pollutants, forest fires at potentially toxic levels

Posted: July 17, 2012 |   Comments

ScienceDaily (July 16, 2012) - Forest fires and emission of air pollutants, which include fumes from vehicles running on diesel and slow burning of coal and charcoal, release isocyanic acid in the troposphere. In 2011, scientists first detected isocyanic acid in the ambient atmosphere at levels that are toxic to human populations; at concentrations exceeding 1 parts-per-billion by volume (ppbv), human beings could experience tissue decay when exposed to the toxin.

For the first time, using a chemical transport model designed to estimate the distribution and budget of isocyanic acid in the troposphere, Young et al. show that in several parts of the world, local emissions may increase the concentration of isocyanic acid in ambient atmosphere, thereby exposing large populations to potentially toxic levels of the acid.

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