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D. A New Way to Measure Evasive, Small Pollution Particles

Narrator:This is Science Today. Small pollution particles that come from auto exhaust, power plants and a certain amount of photochemical smog, penetrate deeply into people's lungs. The more particles there are, the more people die and are admitted to hospitals for respiratory problems. Understanding just how these particles affect our health has proven difficult, because it's hard to get good measurements of these chemicals between the gas and airborne particle phase. Lara Gundel, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has come up with an air sampler to do just that.

Gundel: We devised a way to accurately separate the gases and the particles by basically trapping out the gases first and then catching the particles and then measuring the particles.

Narrator:This is done using what's called a diffusion denuder.

Gundel: Denude just means to remove, or to strip. The reason it's called a diffusion denuder is because it separates the gases and particles based on their different diffusion properties and speeds. The gases will go really fast like toddlers and the particles will go along with the flow - like a log in a river stream.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.