ARB Research Seminar

This page updated March 19, 2019

Chemical Product Emissions Emerging as Important Urban Source of Volatile Organic Compounds

Photo of Brian C. McDonald, Ph.D.

Brian C. McDonald, Ph.D. CIRES, University of Colorado, and NOAA (Boulder, CO)

April 19, 2019
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA



Over multiple decades volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the transportation sector have decreased by over an order of magnitude. As transportation emissions decline, other sources of urban VOCs are likely growing in relative importance. This talk focuses on emissions from the everyday use of volatile chemical products (VCPs), including personal care products, cleaning agents, inks, coatings, adhesives, and pesticides. In the Los Angeles basin, we estimate that VCPs now account for around half of the petrochemical VOCs emitted with potential implications for ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA). In this seminar, I will first discuss follow-up ground-based and mobile laboratory measurements made in New York City, indicating that VCPs are an important source of VOCs in other US cities. Second, I will discuss chemical tracers that can be used to detect with greater chemical specificity the types of chemical products emitted into the atmosphere. Lastly, I will discuss preliminary efforts to better understand trends of anthropogenic VOC emissions over time.

Speaker Biography

Dr. McDonald is a research scientist at the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado and at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, CO. Prior to arriving in Colorado, he received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Master's in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. His expertise is on developing emission inventories of energy and urban systems, assessments of air quality trends, and regional air quality modeling.

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