LAPI contributed to an important paper on biomass burning pollution



Research by the teams of Prof. Athanasios Nenes (LAPI, EPFL and FORTH Greece) and Spyros Pandis of the Center for Studies on Air Quality and Climate Change (C-STACC; of the Institute of Chemical Engineering Sciences at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (ICE-HT/FORTH; led to the discovery of a chemical mechanism that rapidly produces air pollution from biomass burning, during the night. This finding radically changes our view of pollution production from biomass combustion and may explain the paradoxically high levels of oxidized organic particles in urban areas during the winter. The results of the research, conducted under the European ERC program PyroTRACH (, can be found in Kodros et al. (here), published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Oxidized organic aerosol is a major component of ambient particulate matter, substantially impacting climate, human health, and ecosystems. Oxidized aerosol from biomass burning is especially toxic, known to contain a large amount of species that are known carcinogens, mutagens. Inhaling biomass burning particles also cause oxidative stress and cause a wide range of diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, asthma, premature aging – even diabetes. Oxidized aerosol primarily forms from the atmospheric oxidation of volatile and semi-volatile compounds emitted by sources like biomass burning, resulting in products that readily form particulate matter. Every model in use today assumes that oxidized aerosol forms in the presence of sunlight, and that it requires days of atmospheric processing to reach the levels observed in the environment. Naturally this implies that oxidized aerosol forms in the daytime and mostly during periods with plentiful sunshine, such as in summer.

Read more here

Paper "Rapid dark aging of biomass burning as an overlooked source of oxidized organic aerosol"