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A dispersion of tiny solid or liquid particles in air. Solid aerosols are suspended atmospheric particles of less than 1 micrometer in diameter. They are typically found as air pollutants and can travel far from their original source. These solid aerosols can adversely affect health, visibility, and cause damage to materials. Liquid aerosol sprays or mists are typically produced using a propellant to force liquid through a small nozzle. Numerous products, such as paints, consolidants, coatings, adhesives, insecticides, deodorants, and cleaners can be dispersed as aerosols. Propellants are usually hydrocarbons (Propane, Butane) or Carbon dioxide. Many previously used propellants, such as Freon and Vinyl chloride, have been banned.

Synonyms and Related Terms

aerosols (pl.); particulates; airborne particles; Aerosol (Deut.); Schwebstaub (Deut.); aérosol (Fr.); particules en suspension dans d'air (Fr.); aerossol (Port.)


  • Explosive danger.
  • Use only in well-ventilated areas.
  • The extremely fine particles in the aerosol can be inhaled, penetrating deeply into the lungs.

Resources and Citations

  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Pam Hatchfield, Pollutants in the Museum Environment, Archetype Press, London, 2002

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