Black Carbon in Atmosphere: Instrumentation, Chemical–Physical Behavior, Human Health Implications

A special issue of Atmosphere (ISSN 2073-4433). This special issue belongs to the section "Air Quality and Human Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 23359

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Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Sciences (DiAAA), University of Molise, Via F. De Sanctis, I-86100 Campobasso, Italy
Interests: phthalates; bisphenol-A; plasticizers; microplastics; environment; human health; endocrine disruptors
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Dear Colleagues,

Carbonaceous particles (or total carbon, TC), the largest contributor to atmospheric PM, are composed of two main fractions, elemental carbon (EC) and organic Carbon (OC). EC (or black carbon or soot) has a graphitic-like structure and is essentially a primary pollutant emitted in particulate form, and its chemical stability excludes chemical transformations during its lifetime in atmosphere. OC represents a large variety of organic compounds, e.g., aliphatic, aromatic compounds, alcohols, and acids, and has both primary and secondary origin: primary OC particulate is formed during combustion and emitted mainly as submicron particles.

The use of such methodology is important for different reasons: It is fundamental for the evaluation of atmospheric pollution from combustion processes; it can be used as a specific index of car traffic pollution; it is very significant for the protection of human health due to the high permanence of the carbonaceous particles in the atmosphere and the numerous chemical–physical transformation processes that they can undergo in the atmosphere; the separation between EC and OC is of fundamental importance for the study of the pneumoconiogenic effects and, more generally, for the toxic effects and for the study of the mechanisms of formation of photochemical pollutants.

This Special Issue aims to examine the state of the art in this important topic, focusing on theory and on the development of new instrumentation useful for this determination, chemical–physical problems in the atmosphere, health and toxicological implications related to exposure to these pollutants, as well as historical data series in urban, rural, and remote areas are.

Prof. Dr. Pasquale Avino
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • black carbon
  • organic carbon
  • aerosol
  • carbonaceous aerosol
  • instrumentation
  • thermal properties
  • optical properties
  • chemical speciation
  • cultural heritage
  • photochemical pollution
  • human health

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 197 KiB  
Editorial
Black Carbon in Atmosphere: Instrumentation, Chemical-Physical Behavior, Human Health Implications
by Pasquale Avino
Atmosphere 2022, 13(12), 2087; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13122087 - 12 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1194
Abstract
Carbonaceous aerosol is the most significant contributor to the particulate matter in the atmosphere. It is composed of a complex mixture of compounds containing carbon atoms and is usually classified into two main fractions: black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC). BC is [...] Read more.
Carbonaceous aerosol is the most significant contributor to the particulate matter in the atmosphere. It is composed of a complex mixture of compounds containing carbon atoms and is usually classified into two main fractions: black carbon (BC) and organic carbon (OC). BC is essentially a primary pollutant emitted in particulate form, and its chemical stability excludes chemical transformations during its lifetime in the atmosphere. Therefore, it should be considered a tracer for the long-range transport of anthropogenic air pollution. OC has both primary and secondary origins: primary OC particulate is formed during combustion and emitted mainly as submicron particles, whereas secondary OC particulate originates from gas-to-particle conversion processes. This SI aims to deepen the state of the art on this important topic ranging from theory to the development of new instrumentation useful for this determination, to the chemical–physical problems in the atmosphere, to the health and toxicological implications related to exposure to these pollutants as well as papers showing historical data series both in urban, rural, and remote areas are also appreciated. Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial

15 pages, 4784 KiB  
Article
Black Carbon Emissions and Associated Health Impacts of Gas Flaring in the United States
by Chen Chen, David C. McCabe, Lesley E. Fleischman and Daniel S. Cohan
Atmosphere 2022, 13(3), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13030385 - 25 Feb 2022
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 8265
Abstract
Gas flaring from oil and gas fields is a significant source of black carbon (BC) emissions, a component of particulate matter that damages health and warms the climate. Observations from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite instrument indicate that approximately 17.2 [...] Read more.
Gas flaring from oil and gas fields is a significant source of black carbon (BC) emissions, a component of particulate matter that damages health and warms the climate. Observations from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite instrument indicate that approximately 17.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas was flared from upstream oil and gas operations in the United States in 2019. Based on an emissions factor equation that accounts for the higher heating value of the gas, that corresponded to nearly 16,000 tons of BC emitted, though estimates vary widely across published emissions factors. In this study, we used three reduced-form air quality and health effect models to estimate the health impacts from the flaring-emitted BC particulate matter in the United States. The three models—EASIUR, AP3, and InMAP—predict 26, 48, and 53 premature deaths, respectively, in 2019. The mortality range expands from 5 to 360 deaths annually if alternative emission factors are used. This study shows that reduced-form models can be useful to estimate the impacts of numerous dispersed emissions sources such as flares, and that further research is needed to better quantify BC emissions factors from flares. Full article
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13 pages, 4089 KiB  
Article
A New PM Sampler with a Built-In Black Carbon Continuous Monitor
by Lorenzo Caponi, Gianluca Cazzuli, Giulio Gargioni, Dario Massabò, Paolo Brotto and Paolo Prati
Atmosphere 2022, 13(2), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13020299 - 10 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1782
Abstract
We introduce a new instrument for sampling the airborne particulate matter (PM) while monitoring the black carbon (BC) atmospheric concentration. The concentration of PM and BC are usually measured by separate instruments with possible systematics differences even in the collecting inlets. The new [...] Read more.
We introduce a new instrument for sampling the airborne particulate matter (PM) while monitoring the black carbon (BC) atmospheric concentration. The concentration of PM and BC are usually measured by separate instruments with possible systematics differences even in the collecting inlets. The new equipment is based on a low-volume sequential PM sampler, fully compliant with the EU-CEN and US-EPA regulatory standards, with a built-in optical BC monitor. The BC concentration is continuously measured during the sampling in the PM accumulated on the filter while the PM concentration can be obtained off-line by a standard gravimetric analysis. The optical set-up, upstream the collecting filter, is composed by a single wavelength light source (λ = 635 nm) and a photodiode, placed in way to receive the light backscattered by the filter surface at a fixed angle. The mechanical arrangement does not introduce any perturbation to the PM sampling. Thanks to an original calibration curve, the sample absorbance is deduced from the output signal of the photodiode. Finally, the BC concentration is obtained through the Mass Absorption Coefficient (MAC). After the sampling and the PM gravimetric determination, the same filter can be sent to other compositional analyses. Thermo-optical quantification of the Elemental and Organic Carbon (EC and OC) in the filter sample can thus be exploited to tune the MAC value to the PM composition of a particular site. The main features of the new instrument and the set of validation tests against other PM samplers and BC monitors of widespread use (i.e.,: Multi Angle Absorption Photometer and aethalometer) are detailed and discussed. Full article
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11 pages, 3384 KiB  
Article
Variations of Black Carbon Concentrations in Two Sites in Mexico: A High-Altitude National Park and a Semi-Urban Site
by Martha Leyte-Lugo, Bruno Sandoval, Dara Salcedo, Oscar Peralta, Telma Castro and Harry Alvarez-Ospina
Atmosphere 2022, 13(2), 216; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos13020216 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2408
Abstract
Black carbon (BC), a component of carbonaceous material, has an important role in the environment, and it is considered a short-lived climate forcer that plays a vital role in the global climate system. BC concentrations were analyzed during 2017 in two sites in [...] Read more.
Black carbon (BC), a component of carbonaceous material, has an important role in the environment, and it is considered a short-lived climate forcer that plays a vital role in the global climate system. BC concentrations were analyzed during 2017 in two sites in Mexico, Juriquilla and Altzomoni, which have different emission sources and atmospheric dynamics. The annual average BC concentrations in 2017 were 0.84 ± 0.70 and 0.58 ± 0.37 µg m−3 for Juriquilla and Altzomoni, respectively. The principal contributors for the highest BC concentration in Juriquilla were anthropogenic sources, while pollutants transport from nearby cities was more important for Altzomoni. Comparison between this analysis and previous reports from 2015 for both sampling sites demonstrated an increase in BC concentration. Results of this study could contribute to a better understanding of BC effects under different emission conditions and provide a scientific reference for developing BC reduction strategies over Mexico. Full article
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12 pages, 2983 KiB  
Article
Concentration and Physical Characteristics of Black Carbon in Winter Snow of Beijing in 2015
by Delong Zhao, Jiujiang Sheng, Yuanmou Du, Wei Zhou, Fei Wang, Wei Xiao and Deping Ding
Atmosphere 2021, 12(7), 816; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12070816 - 25 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2472
Abstract
In Beijing, the probability of snowfall is decreasing as a result of global warming. At the same time, Beijing has suffered severe air pollution. In this paper, the concentration and particle size characteristics of BC (Black Carbon) in snow during the winter of [...] Read more.
In Beijing, the probability of snowfall is decreasing as a result of global warming. At the same time, Beijing has suffered severe air pollution. In this paper, the concentration and particle size characteristics of BC (Black Carbon) in snow during the winter of 2015 in Beijing were analyzed by the SP2 method. The average concentration of BC in snow meltwater in Beijing is 82 ng/mL, with a minimum value of 62.9 ng/mL and a maximum of 210.6 ng/mL. The BC particle size in snow and ice in the Beijing area is mostly concentrated in the range of 70–400 nm. After log-normal, the BC particle size above 600 nm is still small, which should be closely related to the nature of the local BC emission source. The concentration of BC in snow is highly susceptible to meteorological conditions and local pollution levels. When Beijing is under the control of the east wind or the southeast wind, aerosols in the urban areas can easily accumulate in the northwestern mountains and then settle or participate in the snowfall process, resulting in an increase in BC aerosol accumulation in the snow, thus further changing the optical properties of snow in the Beijing area. Full article
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14 pages, 3055 KiB  
Article
Characteristics and Source Apportionment of Black Carbon (BC) in a Suburban Area of Klang Valley, Malaysia
by Eliani Ezani, Sairam Dhandapani, Mathew R. Heal, Sarva M. Praveena, Md Firoz Khan and Zamzam T. A. Ramly
Atmosphere 2021, 12(6), 784; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12060784 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3466
Abstract
Black carbon (BC) is of concern due to its contribution to poor air quality and its adverse effects human health. We carried out the first real-time monitoring of BC in Malaysia using an AE33 Aethalometer. Measurements were conducted between 1 January and 31 [...] Read more.
Black carbon (BC) is of concern due to its contribution to poor air quality and its adverse effects human health. We carried out the first real-time monitoring of BC in Malaysia using an AE33 Aethalometer. Measurements were conducted between 1 January and 31 May 2020 in a university area in a suburban location of the Klang Valley. The measurement period coincided with the implementation of a movement control order (MCO) in response to COVID-19. The mean concentration of BC before the MCO was 2.34 µg/m3 which decreased by 38% to 1.45 µg/m3 during the MCO. The BC is dominated by fossil-fuel sources (mean proportion BCff = 79%). During the MCO, the BCff concentration decreased by more than the BCbb concentration derived from biomass burning. BC and BCff show very strong diurnal cycles, which also show some weekday–weekend differences, with maxima during the night and just before noon, and minima in the afternoon. These patterns indicate strong influences on concentrations from both traffic emissions and boundary layer depth. BC was strongly correlated with NO2 (R = 0.71), another marker of traffic emission, but less strongly with PM2.5 (R = 0.52). The BC absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) ranged between 1.1 and 1.6. We observed pronounced diurnal cycles of lower AAE in daytime, corresponding to BCff contributions from traffic. Average AAE also showed a pronounced increase during the MCO. Our data provides a new reference for BC in suburban Malaysia for the public and policy-makers, and a baseline for future measurements. Full article
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13 pages, 4031 KiB  
Article
Impact of Black Carbon on Surface Ozone in the Yangtze River Delta from 2015 to 2018
by Yue Tan, Delong Zhao, Honglei Wang, Bin Zhu, Dongping Bai, Ankang Liu, Shuangshuang Shi and Qihang Dai
Atmosphere 2021, 12(5), 626; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos12050626 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2259
Abstract
Despite the yearly decline in PM2.5 in China, surface ozone has been rapidly increasing recently, which makes it imperative to coordinate and control both PM2.5 and ozone in the atmosphere. This study utilized the data of pollutant concentrations and meteorological elements [...] Read more.
Despite the yearly decline in PM2.5 in China, surface ozone has been rapidly increasing recently, which makes it imperative to coordinate and control both PM2.5 and ozone in the atmosphere. This study utilized the data of pollutant concentrations and meteorological elements during 2015 to 2018 in Nanjing, China to analyze the daily correlation between black carbon and ozone (CBO), and the distribution of the pollutant concentrations under different levels of CBO. Besides, the diurnal variations of pollutant concentrations and meteorological elements under high positive and negative CBO were discussed and compared. The results show that the percentage of positive CBO had been increasing at the average rate of 7.1%/year, and it was 38.7% in summer on average, nearly twice of that in other seasons (19.2%). The average black carbon (BC), PM2.5 and NO2 under positive CBO was lower than those under negative CBO. It is noticeable that the surface ozone began to ascend when CBO was up to 0.2, with PM2.5 and NO2 decreasing and BC remaining steady. Under negative CBO, pollutant concentrations and meteorological elements showed obvious diurnal variations: BC showed a double-peak pattern and surface ozone, PM2.5, SO2 and CO showed single-peak patterns and NO2 showed a trough from 10:00 to 19:00. Wind speed and visibility showed a single-peak pattern with little seasonal difference. Relative humidity rose first, then it lowered and then it rose. Under positive CBO, the patterns of diurnal variations became less obvious, and some of them even showed no patterns, but just fluctuated at a certain level. Full article
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