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Last updated date: 12th Jul 2024
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What is Aerosol?

A system of liquid or solid particles evenly dispersed in a precisely separated state by a gas, typically air, is known as an aerosol. In short, the aerosol meaning in a simple way is an aerosol is a collection of solid particles or liquid droplets dispersed in the air. Examples include smoke, fog, sea spray and pollution particles of the atmosphere. Aerosol particles, such as dust, are essential for precipitation since they have condensation and freezing nuclei. A suspension of small solid particles or liquid droplets in air or another gas is known as an aerosol (abbreviation of "aero-solution").

The aerosol may be either normal or man-made. Some aerosol examples are given as fog or mist, smoke, tree exudates, and geyser steam. Particulate air pollution and smoke are examples of anthropogenic aerosol. They also play a role in chemical reactions and affect the atmosphere's electrical properties. Aerosol is tiny particles of matter that can be detected in the air overseas, deserts, lakes, trees, glaciers, and any habitat in between.

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They range in scale from a few nanometers less than the width of the smallest viruses to several tens of micrometres roughly the diameter of human hair and drift through Earth's atmosphere from the stratosphere to the floor. Aerosols are very small objects floating in the air.

Aerosol can also serve as catalysts for chemical reactions (heterogeneous chemistry).

The reactions that contribute to the degradation of stratospheric ozone are the most significant. Aerosols rise in the polar regions throughout the winter, forming polar stratospheric clouds.

Aerosols of particles greater than 50 micrometres are generally unstable unless air turbulence is very high, as in a heavy thunderstorm. A suspended structure of solid aerosol or liquid aerosol particles in a gas is also known as an aerosol. Both the particles and the suspending steam, which is normally air, make up an aerosol. During World War I, Frederick G. Donnan is said to have coined the word "aerosol" to describe aero-solutions or bubbles of small particles in the air.

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Aitken nuclei are microscopic particles with a diameter of less than 0.1 micrometres. The diameter of true aerosol particles varies from a few milli micrometres to around 1 micrometre (equal to 10-4 cm).

As smaller particles are suspended, the system appears to resemble a true solution when larger particles are suspended, the settling rate is normally so fast that the system cannot be considered a true aerosol. 

In the air or another gas, an aerosol is a colloid of small solid particles or liquid droplets.

When these particles are big enough, we can see them when they disperse and reflect light. Because of the flickering of photons, illumination is reduced, and sunrises and sunsets are reddened. Aerosols influence the Earth's radiation budget and atmosphere in both overt and indirect ways.

The aerosols reflect photons straight back into space as a direct result. Aerosols in the lower atmosphere provide an indirect impact on cloud particle composition, determining how clouds reflect and consume sunlight and therefore the Earth's energy budget. 

Chemical reactions may take place on the vast surface areas of these cloud particles. These processes result in the accumulation of massive quantities of reactive chlorine and, as a result, the ozone layer in the stratosphere is destroyed. There is no evidence that similar increases in stratospheric ozone concentrations occur during massive volcanic eruptions, such as the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, which blew tonnes of volcanic aerosols into the atmosphere.

Volcanic Aerosol

The atmosphere of the Earth is influenced by three kinds of aerosols.

The first is the volcanic aerosol crust, which occurs in the stratosphere after large volcanic eruptions such as Mt. Pinatubo. Sulfur dioxide gas is transferred to sulfuric acid droplets in the stratosphere over a week to several months following the eruption, becoming the primary aerosol sheet.

The aerosols are dispersed by stratospheric winds until they almost fill the globe. These aerosols remain in the stratosphere for about two years after they are created. They replicate sunshine, which cools the lower atmosphere and the Earth's surface by minimising the amount of radiation hitting them.

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Desert Dust Aerosol

Desert dust is the second form of aerosol that can have a direct impact on the atmosphere.

Images from weather satellites often show dust veils pouring out over the Atlantic Ocean from North African deserts. The fallout from these layers has been seen in several places around the American continent. Dust veils similar to these can be seen streaming from the Asian continent's deserts.

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Human-Made Aerosol

Human actions produce the third form of an aerosol. Although smoke from burning tropical forests accounts for a significant portion of human-made aerosol, sulphate aerosol generated by coal and oil combustion account for the majority. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the amount of human-made sulphate aerosol in the atmosphere has steadily increased.

Human-made sulphate aerosol is believed to outnumber naturally produced sulphate aerosol at current production levels.

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People Create Aerosols for Various Purposes, Including:

  • The liquid form of aerosol is mist.

  • Solid aerosol examples are Smoke, Fume, and Dust.

  • Liquid aerosol involves liquid dispersed in gas.

  • As test aerosols for performing research, calibrating instruments, and testing sampling equipment and air filters.

  • To deliver deodorants, paints, perfumes, and other consumer products in sprays.

  • For agricultural and dispersal application.

Did You Know?

How Does Covid-19 Spread Between Humans?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the disease, is known to spread between people in a variety of ways. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings, or breathes, the infection spreads in tiny liquid particles from their mouth or nose. Larger respiratory droplets to tiny aerosols are among the spores. According to current data, the virus spreads mostly between individuals who are in near proximity to one another, usually within 1 metre (short-range). When virus-containing aerosols or droplets are inhaled or come into close contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth, an individual may become infected. 

The infection may also spread in cramped and/or poorly ventilated indoor environments, where people prefer to spend longer periods of time. This is due to the fact that aerosols stay trapped in the air or fly a distance of more than one metre (long-range).

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FAQs on Aerosol

1. Why Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19?

Answer: The novel coronavirus spreads from person to person through droplets and aerosols. Initially, it was thought that the virus transmitted exclusively by droplets and fomites (infected surfaces), but evidence from super-spreading events and contact-tracing attempts around the world revealed that airborne/aerosol transmission could play a significant role in pandemic dynamics. 239 scientists signed a letter to the WHO in July 2020 recognising the virus's airborne dissemination and urging policymakers and organisations to solve the issue.

Physicists, environmental experts, chemists, physicians, and epidemiologists were among the signatories.

2. Define Aerosol and Explain Aerosol Examples.

Answer: A substance enclosed under pressure and released as a fine spray by means of a propellant gas also an aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in air or another gas. Fog or mist, smoke, tree exudates, and geyser steam are examples of natural aerosols.

Particulate air pollution and smoke are examples of anthropogenic aerosols. Organic smoke, smoke from bonfires, and automotive carbon emissions are examples of man-made aerosols.

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