Peter Brimblecombe

Peter Brimblecombe


If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile


Peter has now retired and lives in Hong Kong.

I was born in Australia, but went to university in Auckland, New Zealand where I did a PhD on the aqueous chemistry of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere. I am a Professor in Atmospheric Chemistry and was appointed senior editor of Atmospheric Environment in 1990. I am convinced that environmental pollution is not merely a matter of environmental chemistry. The smells have to be smelt. Painting and poetry can be as informative as a scientific description when trying to understand the complexities of environmental problems. I admire detective writers; no crap and their hearts are in the right place. The title of my book The Big Smoke was meant remind us of Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, so I was pleased when this academic book was reviewed as "reading like a thriller". Recently I have been thinking much about the representation air pollution in cinema in flims such as Blade Runner.


Key Research Interests and Expertise

Although I remain interested in atmospheric sulphur chemistry that formed the subject of my PhD in the early 1970s, I am currently concerned with the thermodynamics of the concentrated aqueous aerosol and in recent years this has been applied to organic materials with a special focus on humic like substances and airborne surfactants. I continue to be interested in long-term changes in urban air pollution and its effects on health and building damage. The historical aspects of this work formed the subject of a book, The Big Smoke, and have recently focussed on Victorian and Edwardian Britain. My interest in material damage by air pollutants has not been restricted to outdoor environments. I have done some work on the museum atmosphere and have a continuing interest in the process of damage to cultural materials by air pollutants. 

Significant publications

  • Brimblecombe, P. (2005) The Globalization of Local Air Pollution, Globalizations 2, 429-441. doi: 10.1080/14747730500368114
  • P. Brimblecombe and C. Grossi (2005) Aesthetic thresholds and blackening of stone buildings, Science of the Total Environment 349, 175-189 doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.01.009
  • M.T. Latif and P. Brimblecombe (2004) Surfactants in atmospheric aerosols Environmental Science and Technology, 38, 6501-6506. DOI: 10.1021/es049109n
  • Lifongo, L. L., Bowden, D. and Brimblecombe, P. (2004) Photodegradation of haloacetic acids in water,Chemosphere, 55, 467-476. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2003.11.006
  • C. Grossi and P. Brimblecombe (2004) Aesthetics of simulated soiling patterns on architecture,Environmental Science and Technology, 38, 3971-3976. doi:10.1021/es0353762
  • Clegg SL Seinfeld JH. Brimblecombe P (2001) Thermodynamic modelling of aqueous aerosols containing electrolytes and dissolved organic compounds, Aerosol Science 32, 713-738.doi:10.1016/S0021-8502(00)00105-1

Publications: EPrints Digital Repository


History of air pollution; air pollution, climate change and cultural heritage; air pollution chemistry.

Areas Of Expertise