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VOCs in the Urban Atmosphere: Impacts on Air Quality and Climate Change
Prof. Donald R. BLAKE, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine; HKUST Red Bird Visiting Scholar
Date : 22 Jan 2020 (Wednesday)
Time : 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Venue : Room 2405 (2/F via Lifts 17-18), HKUST
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Severe air pollution is an environmental and human health concern in large cities throughout the world. Components of air pollution include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). These compounds react to form secondary products such as ozone (O3) and secondary organic aerosol (SOA), which in turn impact air quality and climate change. Strategies to improve air quality and mitigate climate change require detailed knowledge of the components of air pollution and how their sources evolve over time.

This seminar will look at the relationships between VOCs, ozone, air quality and climate change. The seminar will also present VOC characteristics, sources and concentrations in four diverse cities in Asia that all experience episodes of severe air pollution but are at different stages of emission control strategies. The cities (populations) are Hong Kong, PRC (around 7 million), Seoul, South Korea (around 10 million), Mecca, Saudi Arabia (around 1.5 million), and Lahore, Pakistan (around 11 million). VOC levels are much lower in cities with established programs to control air pollution (Hong Kong and Seoul) than in cities with emerging emission control strategies (Mecca and Lahore), despite Mecca having the lowest population. Each city also has a characteristic “fingerprint” that reflects its major VOC sources. VOCs emitted from cleaner fuels such as LPG stand out in Hong Kong, compared to solvents in Seoul, gasoline evaporation in Mecca, and vehicle exhaust in Lahore. The results from Seoul will be used as a case study for understanding sources of reactive VOCs and their impact on ozone. Overall the results show the importance of establishing robust air quality monitoring programs to monitor VOC changes over time and to inform effective emission control strategies.


About the speaker

Prof. Donald R. Blake received his BS from Chemistry in the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978, followed by his MS and PhD from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) in Chemistry in 1980 and 1984 respectively. Prof. Blake’s career in UCI started in 1978 and he has been serving his alma mater as a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry since 2012.

Prof. Blake’s research interests are atmospheric chemistry and analysis of trace gases in exhaled breath. His research group identifies and quantifies atmospheric gases in (a) remote locations throughout the Pacific region from Alaska to New Zealand: (b) highly polluted cities throughout the world; and (c) areas with special conditions, such as burning forests and/or agricultural wastes, or the marine boundary layer in oceanic locations with high biological emissions. Until 2018, Prof. Blake has already published over 560 research outputs.

Prof. Blake’s research excellence has been recognized by a number of honors and awards such as NASA Group Achievement Award in 1993, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2016 and 2018, CARB Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award in 2014 and American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology in 2013. He was also elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2008) and the American Geophysical Union (2009).


For attendees’ attention


  Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
  In view of the Campus Access Controls currently applicable on HKUST campus, participants are required to present his/her identification document for verification before entering the campus area.
  If you are NOT a holder of a valid HKUST card (i.e. a student, staff, family, resident or temporary card of HKUST), you will need to register for attending this event by sending an email to ias@ust.hk with your name displayed on your identification document at least one working day beforehand.



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