Black carbon

Air quality specialist calls for Black Carbon standard

Traditionally, ambient particulates have been measured gravimetrically according to their size. However, Jim Mills, Managing Director of Air Monitors, believes that the time has come to change or at least augment the way ambient particulates are monitored and regulated.

Read about Black Carbon on Wikipedia!

Black carbon is in the air and circulates the globe.

Black Carbon (BC) is a term describing the fine particles that are produced as the result of incomplete combustion of fuels and Jim contests that new BC measurement standards would radically improve human health AND make a very significant contribution to the fight against climate change. BC can be measured accurately and specifically with an Aethalometer, which provides a real-time readout of the concentration of ‘Black’ or ‘Elemental’ carbon aerosol particles in the air.

Health Issues
Despite dramatic reductions in airborne particulates in recent decades, a significant level of human health problems persist, and many scientists now believe that finer particles may be the major cause because they are able to travel deeper into the respiratory system.

Climate Change

Black Carbon monitor

The MicroAeth Model AE51 is the worlds first ever real-time, pocket-sized Black Carbon aerosol monitor.

BC stays in the atmosphere for a relatively short period of time – from days to weeks. This is important because BC emissions are the second largest contribution to current global warming, after carbon dioxide emissions. However, since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for many decades, emissions reductions will take a long time to have an effect, which means that efforts to reduce BC could have a much faster impact on global warming.

Research
The importance of BC has been recognised by the European Commission which is funding a new research project (CARBOTRAF) which aims to create a method, system and tools for adaptively influencing traffic flow in real-time to reduce CO2 and BC emissions caused by road transport in urban and inter-urban areas.

The two host cities Glasgow (GB) and Graz (A), were chosen due to their ability to manage traffic flows and utilise real-time air quality monitoring systems from Air Monitors and a decision support system provided by IBM Inc.

Summary
Historically, initiatives to lower airborne particulates have been driven by a regulatory need to reduce the levels of PM10 particulates, so new additional monitoring standards based on BC could drive improvements that would both enhance human health and help in the fight against climate change.

The Aethalometer® is an instrument that uses optical analysis to determine the mass concentration of Black Carbon particles collected from an air stream passing through a filter. These particles are directly emitted to the air during all combustion, but are primarly associated with coal or diesel smoke. They adversely affect public health; contribute to local and global climate change; and reduce visibility. Aethalometers are used by air-quality monitoring programs; public-health protection agencies; research laboratories; and community groups.

Aethalometer data contribute to an understanding of the composition and sources of air-pollution particles; the effects of poor air quality on public health; and the effects on local weather and global climate change.

The Aethalometer technology is available on different chassis and platforms: Rack Mount, Portable, Modular, High Range, and Transmissometer. The Aethalometer is also offered in two configurations of light analysis: 2-Wavelength (infra-red 880 nm for Black Carbon; ultraviolet 370 nm for aromatic organic compounds) and 7-Wavelength (7 sources from 370 nm to 950 nm).

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2 Responses to Black carbon

  1. […] too long ago we highlighted “Black Carbon” in our blog “Air quality specialist calls for Black Carbon standard” which discussed this, for us, new term, of a substance which we are told is a powerful force […]

  2. […] anthropogenic so are of less interest from an air quality management perspective. (see also article “Black Carbon” […]

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