Tracers and Dispersion Of Gaseous Pollutants

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The transport and dispersion of pollutants, within and from a large urban area, are important processes due to their potential environmental impact on city inhabitants and those living in nearby communities. The release of atmospheric Tracers is a powerful technique to simulate the dispersion of pollutants and to enable direct measurement of the transport path and concentrations along the trajectory. Successful Tracers are inert, non-toxic, non-depositing, with low atmospheric background concentrations, long atmospheric lifetimes, and limited commercial use. This research project is developing the Tracer technology necessary to characterise atmospheric dispersion within the urban environment.




Bristol University is exploiting the many years of experience in Tracer technology coupled with recent advances in gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques. There are several components to developing an effective experimental Tracer technology and this project is addressing each of these in turn:

  • selection of Tracers
  • analytical instrumentation for their quantitative determination in the femtolitre/litre range
  • design and construction of automated sequential samplers
  • Tracer release apparatus
  • the preparation of accurate perfluorocarbon standards.

Start date/duration

April 1998 - three years

Lead Organisations

University of Bristol

University of Cambridge


This project will provide the database for testing and developing air quality models.


Industry in general

Other consortia studying urban pollution problems

Further Details

Further information is available from the following contacts:

Lead Researcher: Dr P G Simmonds

Tel: 0117 9287670, Fax: 0117 9251295

URGENT Programme Manager: Graham Leeks

Tel: 01491 692203, Fax: 01491 692313, e-mail: