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Journal articles

Les effets environnementaux des particules

Abstract : Apart from its impact on human health, particulate matter is involved in different environmental problems, such as climate change, tropospheric ozone formation, visibility impairment and hydrology disruption. The role of particulate matter in global warming depends on the composition of the particles, and can lead to a cooling or a warming effect. New scientific results are currently showing the possibility of a stronger warming of the atmosphere by black carbon aerosols than previously thought. For that reason, some scientists claim that strategies to fight global warming should include black carbon emission reductions. These reductions would have an immediate action of slowing global warming, that would complete actions taken on CO2 targeting long-term effects. Such a strategy would bring ancillary benefits in terms of air quality and health effects. At least, past and current European policies of emission reduction of SO2 and NH3 are expected to lead to a decrease in the cooling effect of sulphate and nitrate aerosols, that should be offset as much as possible by efforts on black carbon emission reductions, otherwise the net effect of aerosols on global warming in Europe could go the wrong way. Pollution by particulate matter and tropospheric ozone formation are closely interconnected (particulate matter impacts on photolysis rates, secondary aerosol and ozone have common precursor gases,...), and for that reason the North-American Strategy on Tropospheric Ozone (NARSTO) chose to integrate both aspects in its strategy. Such a concern for consistency should be considered at a higher degree within the Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution in Europe. Another environmental effect of particulate matter is visibility impairment, mainly attributable to sulphate and organic aerosols. In the United States, it is considered as an important problem that affects not only National Parks but also the entire population. It has been evaluated in the US that monetarised benefits from the Clean Air Act are twice as high as benefits expected from reduced damages to crops by tropospheric ozone. There is very few knowledge about public perception of this environmental problem in Europe, nor European countries seem to have policies to address the issue. However, a recent study found that visibility impairment was more pronounced for most parts of Europe than in the USA. Finally, considering all environmental effects of particulate matter, it is likely that the best way to address such a variety of problems is to search for a simultaneous and general reduction of all air pollutants emissions. It is especially important that future emissions reduction of atmospheric pollutants address black carbon, if we want to avoid the risk that these reductions might lead to counter-productive effects in terms of climate change.
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  • HAL Id : ineris-00961876, version 1
  • INERIS : PU-2003-031



Jean-Marc Brignon. Les effets environnementaux des particules. Pollution Atmosphérique : climat, santé, société, Le Kremlin Bicêtre : Revue Pollution atmosphérique, 2003, pp.91-102. ⟨ineris-00961876⟩



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