J. Phys. IV France
Volume 12, Numéro 10, November 2002
Page(s) 197 - 210

J. Phys. IV France
12 (2002) Pr10-197
DOI: 10.1051/jp4:20020460

The effect of atmospheric pollution on building materials

C.M. Grossi and P. Brimblecombe

School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

This chapter surveys main effects of atmospheric pollution on building materials. It summarises these effects on stone, bricks, mortar, concrete, glass, metals (iron, zinc, copper, bronze, aluminium, lead and silver), polymers, paints and timber. Special attention is paid to stone because of its extensive use as building material in the cultural heritage. In general, main damaging agent is sulfur dioxide which leads to sulfation of many materials, particularly carbonate-bearing stones. However, the decline of sulfur dioxide in cities means that the recognition of the prime role of this pollutant presents something of a dilemma. It is increasingly necessary to consider other substances that can contribute to material decay e.g. nitrogen oxides, chlorides and ozone, either acting as synergistic to the sulfation reaction or as main decay agents, such as the case of aluminium and polymers. Particulate matter often from diesel vehicles can also accelerate the oxidation of SO 2 on the surface (traditionally sulfur dioxide with Fe-rich particles) and blacken the materials surface in the case of soot. These processes contribute to the formation of black-crusts when embedded in the gypsum layer resulting from the material sulfation, but again the rate in the modem atmosphere is a matter of much research.

© EDP Sciences 2002