Sea air

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Sea air has traditionally been thought to offer health benefits associated with its unique odor, which Victorians attributed to ozone. More recently, it has been determined that the chemical responsible for much of the odor in air along certain seashores is dimethyl sulfide, released by microbes.[1]

Salts generally do not dissolve in air, but can be carried by sea spray in the form of particulate matter.

In the early 19th century, a lower prevalence of disease in costal regions or islands was attributed to the sea air.[2] Such medical believe translated into the literature of Jane Austen and other authors.[3]

Later that century, such beliefs led to the establishment of seaside resorts for the treatment of tuberculosis,[4] with medical beliefs of its efficacy continuing into the 20th century.[5] However, the quality of sea air was often degraded by pollution from wood- and coal-burning ships. Today those fuels are gone, replaced by high sulphur oil in diesel engines, which generate sulphate aerosols.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Highfield, Roger (February 2, 2007). "Secrets of 'bracing' sea air bottled by scientists". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  2. ^ "Sea air". The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Volume 2. 1823. p. 68.
  3. ^ Darcy, Jane. "Jane Austen's Sanditon, Doctors, and the Rise of Seabathing". Persuasions On-Line. 38 (2).
  4. ^ Braun, Adee (29 August 2013). "The Historic Healing Power of the Beach". The Atlantic.
  5. ^ Brannan, JW (1905). "The sea air treatment of tuberculosis of the bones and glands in children". Transactions of the American Climatological Association for the year ... American Climatological Association. 21: 107–19. PMID 21408395.
  6. ^ John von Radowitz (19 August 2008), Sea air carries more than scent of waves, The Scotsman

Further reading[edit]

  • Hassan, John. The Seaside, Health and Environment in England and Wales Since 1800. Ashgate Publishing.