Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

UC Davis uses Fresno air to study most toxic particles

Not all pollution particles are created equally bad for you. The ones from cars, trucks, fireplaces and cooking are probably getting the worst reactions from your body.

Two University of California scientists came to the conclusion after collecting air samples from Fresno in summer 2008 and winter 2009, identifying the particles in the samples and allowing laboratory mice to inhale them.

Murky air in downtown Fresno

The approach is the first of its kind, according to the UC Davis scientists, Anthony Wexler and Kent Pinkerton. Wexler is the director of the Air quality Research Center at Davis. Pinkerton is professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine.

Their work on this study will help regulators in the future as they tighten standards to protect human health.

“Right now, air-quality standards are based on the mass of the particulate matter and don’t distinguish between natural sources, like sea spray, and known toxic sources, like diesel exhaust,” said Wexler, who led the study.

The bottom line: New standards some day might be aimed at certain types of particles, instead of all particles. It would save money for industries in the cleanup.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute.