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Black Carbon is more toxic than PM2.5 for health

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Black Carbon is more toxic than PM2.5 for health

Black Carbon (BC), derived in western industrialised nations primarily from diesel engines and biomass burning, poses a significant burden to public health, particularly in European cities with high-traffic density.

Specifically, researchers from CREAL, an ISGlobal allied centre, observed associations between BC and all mortality measures. An increase of 1.4 ug/m3 of BC in Barcelona (a common increase) increased cardiovascular mortality by 2%. Considerably higher effects for respiratory mortality and for those above age 65 were observed. In addition, BC exhibited much greater toxicity per microgram than generic PM2.5.

Xavi Basagaña, one of the authors, adds that “while several studies have reported associations of daily exposures to PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 µm) with mortality, few studies have examined the impact of its constituents such as black carbon (BC), which is also a significant contributor to global climate change”.

To achieve these conclusions researchers assessed the association between daily concentrations of BC and total, cardiovascular and respiratory mortality in two southern Mediterranean cities. Daily averages of BC were collected for 2 years in Barcelona, Spain and Athens, Greece (where BC levers were higher).

Reference: Ostro B, Tobías A, Karanasiou A, Samoli E, Querol X, Rodopoulou S, Basagaña X, Eleftheriadis K, Diapouli E, Vratolis S, Jacquemin B, Katsouyanni K, Sunyer J, Forastiere F, Stafoggia M, and the MED-PARTICLES Study Group. The risks of acute exposure to black carbon in Southern Europe: results from the MED-PARTICLES project.. Occup Environ Med 2014: (in press).


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