Saturday, December 13, 2014

Taj tarnished

The most beautiful tomb in the world, India's Taj Mahal, requires routine cleaning to maintain its visual brilliance. A collaboration of Indian and American scientists have determined exactly what particulates are causing the gleaming white marble to take on a dingy brown cast. Air sampling and electron microscopy reveal that the discoloration is caused by the carbon coming from a variety of sources: fuel combustion, cooking and brick-making, trash and refuse burning, agricultural dust, and vehicle exhaust. The government has already taken steps to reduce vehicle and industrial emissions in the area. Michael Bergin, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology, notes, "Some of these particles are really bad for human health, so cleaning up the Taj Mahal could have a huge health benefit for people in the entire region. The health of humans and the health of the Taj Mahal are intertwined.”

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