Albert Presto is a research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and a member of the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS). Presto’s research focuses on pollutant emissions from energy extraction and consumption and the subsequent atmospheric transformations that these emissions undergo. Energy production and consumption is a major source of pollutants and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Gas and oil wells emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Cars and trucks operating on gasoline and diesel fuels emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Particulate matter from mobile sources is largely the result of incomplete or inefficient combustion in the form of organic aerosol and carbon soot. In addition to the direct emissions of pollutants, dilute exhaust undergoes oxidation in the atmosphere. This oxidation chemistry can lead to the production of secondary pollutants, such as ozone and secondary particulate matter.
Presto investigates the contributions of primary and secondary pollution with ambient measurements, laboratory experiments, source testing of pollution sources, and atmospheric models. This multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary approach allows for a holistic view of pollutant emissions and transformations in the atmosphere.
In addition to having environmental impacts, these pollutants, particularly ozone and particulate matter, adversely impact human health. Presto collaborates with medical professionals to develop detailed studies of pollutant exposure on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, and to better understand the relationships between pollutant emissions and adverse health effects such as childhood asthma.
Albert Presto: Local Air Quality Monitoring for More Targeted Solutions
Atmospheric Impacts of the Marcellus Shale Boom
Presto quoted on air pollution and heart disease
MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in Fatherly on various air filtration systems to protect yourself from air pollution.
Ultrafine and ultra-toxic?
First nationwide ultrafine particle study paves the way for understanding health effects and revisiting government regulation.
Presto quotes on masks for wildfire smoke
MechE’s Albert Presto explains in USA Today that for wildfire smoke protection, much like protection against COVID-19, some masks outperform others.
Pittsburgh Works Together
Presto presents at forum on air quality
MechE’s Albert Presto presented with the Allegheny County Council Committee on Sustainability and Green Initiatives.
Presto study on asthma exacerbation featured by UPMC
MechE’s Albert Presto co-authored a study on asthma exacerbation following a fire at the Clairton Coke Works that destroyed therr pollution controls.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Presto’s research on air quality featured
MechE’s Albert Presto’s research on air quality and asthma was featured by UPMC and News Wise.
The New York Times
Presto’s research on pollution mentioned
MechE’s Albert Presto and former Ph.D. student Rishabh Shah’s research on pollution inequality was mentioned in The New York Times.
Low-cost sensors to fight air pollution
CMU researchers are teaming up with an interdisciplinary, international network to develop new methods and practices for real-time air quality data collection and solutions for air quality issues.
Presto on reduced pollution
MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted by WESA in an article discussing the impact of less traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presto found that less driving led to decreases in carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions, as well as reduced fine particulate matter.
Presto quoted on pollution
MechE’s Albert Presto was quoted in WESA on pollution during the coronavirus pandemic. The original research was done by Presto and MechE Department Head Allen Robinson.
Shared Air Podcast
Jen and Sullivan quoted on coronavirus
ChemE’s Coty Jen and MechE’s Ryan Sullivan appeared on MechE’s Albert Presto’s podcast, Shared Air, on the role of masks in the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID and pollution
A team of Carnegie Mellon researchers found that Pittsburgh’s air pollution levels decreased during the stay-at-home order—but the overall impact remains small.