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Aerosol Science: Technology and Applications by Ian Colbeck, Mihalis Lazaridis

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Chapter 1

Introduction

Mihalis Lazaridis1 and Ian Colbeck2

1Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Greece

2School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, UK

1.1 Introduction

An aerosol is defined as a suspension of liquid or solid in a gas. Aerosols are often discussed as being either ‘desirable’ or ‘undesirable’. The former include those specifically generated for medicinal purposes and those intentionally generated for their useful properties (e.g. nanotechnology, ceramic powders); the latter are often associated with potential harmful effects on human health (e.g. pollution). For centuries, people thought that there were only bad aerosols. Early writers indicated a general connection between lung diseases and aerosol inhalation. In 1700, Bernardo Ramazzini, an Italian physician, described the effect of dust on the respiratory organs, including descriptions of numerous cases of fatal dust diseases (Franco and Franco, 2001).

Aerosols are at the core of environmental problems, such as global warming, photochemical smog, stratospheric ozone depletion and poor air quality. Recognition of the effects of aerosols on climate can be traced back to 44 BC, when an eruption from Mount Etna was linked to cool summers and poor harvests. People have been aware of the occupational health hazard of exposure to aerosols for many centuries. It is only relatively recently that there has been increased awareness of the possible health effects of vehicular pollution, ...

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