Sunlight plays a key role in asphalt emissions, with even moderate levels of sunshine tripling the release of air pollutants, according to a study.Asphalt baking in the summer sunshine is no fun for tender feet, but a new study suggests it’s not doing your lungs any favours either.

As it heats up, asphalt releases chemical compounds that contribute to air pollution. And its emissions double as its temperature increases from 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 60 degrees Celsius), researchers found.Sunlight plays a key role in these asphalt emissions, with even moderate levels of sunshine tripling the release of air pollutants, according to the study published on 2 September in the journal Science Advances.

The problem is likely to only grow worse as global warming increases, said lead researcher Drew Gentner, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering at the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science, in New Haven, Connecticut.

Paved surfaces and rooftops

“Megacities are likely to see urban temperature increases driven by climate change and urban heat island effects, thus enhancing [asphalt’s] relative impact on urban air quality over time,” Gentner said. Urban heat islands are metropolitan areas that are a lot warmer than their rural surroundings because of human activity.

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