New findings from researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland help to explain how toxic and allergy-causing substances in our air are formed. The scientists have for the first time detected long lived reactive oxygen intermediates on the surface of aerosol particles. These forms of oxygen survive here for more than 100 seconds and in that time react with other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides. Chemically speaking, the dust particles are oxidized and nitrated. This is what makes soot particles more toxic and increases the potential of pollen to cause allergies.
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