Course Syllabus

ATMS/CHEM 458: Air Pollution Chemistry

 Meeting Times and Location: Mondays + Wednesdays:  9-10:20 am and Fridays 9:30-10:20 am in Room 310C in the Atmospheric Sciences Geophysics building (ATG).


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Course Description: In this course, we will examine the global atmosphere as a chemical system emphasizing physical factors and chemical processes that give rise to elevated surface ozone, particulate matter, and air toxics; international issues of air pollution transport and changing tropospheric background composition; and regulatory control strategies and challenges. Aimed at science and engineering majors.


Primary learning objectives:

1)    Understand the chemical and physical mechanisms underlying issues related to local and regional air quality in the context of past and future regulatory approaches;

2)    Develop skills using numerical models of these complex phenomena for hypothesis testing and mechanism development;

3)    Be able to understand and discuss the international implications of air quality regulations or the lack thereof on the development and efficacy of national standards.


Instructor: Prof. Joel Thornton (; 543-4010; Office: ATG 508)


Office hours: After class on Mondays (10:20-11:30) or e-mail me to set up a time.


Grading policy:

Problem sets: 20%

4 exams: 60%, Dates to be determined (includes 1 final exam)

Class participation (in class exercises + discussions): 20%


Topics covered:

  1. Fundamentals: Physical Chemistry and Atmospheric Physics
  2. Chemistry of the background atmosphere
  3. Atmospheric Particulate Matter and Ozone
  4. Urban Air Quality and Regulation
  5. Instrumentation and Measurement Methods
  6. Stratospheric Ozone Depletion: Development of a detailed understanding
  7. Greenhouse effect and global warming


Recommended Textbooks:

Air Pollution and Global Warming. Mark Z. Jacobson, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2012.


Introduction to Atmospheric Chemistry, by D.J. Jacob, Princeton University Press. This textbook is freely available online:


Students will also be required to read outside material of direct relevance to the class from scientific journals. Electronic copies will be provided by the instructor.


Another useful textbook:

“Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics: from Air pollution to Climate change” J.H. Seinfeld and S.N. Pandis, Wiley, 2006. Note that the latest version of this book is available online via the UW libraries:

Course Summary:

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