Black Carbon

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 21, 2022, 9:53

Black carbon, widely known to everyone as 'soot' is one of the contributors to air pollution. It is normally formed due to the incomplete combustion of wood, diesel, and other fuels. Though it normally stays in the atmosphere only for a few days after being released, it can hurt the climate and adversely impact our health.

Impact of Black Carbon

These black carbon particles absorb sunlight, leading to a rise in temperatures, and is, therefore, one of the major causes of global warming. In recent times, many countries have come up with regulations to maintain air quality due to the rapid increase in emissions. Following are the adverse impact of black carbon:

  • It causes an increase in heat in the environment, which in turn impacts rainfall patterns cloud formation and therefore hurts the climate.
  • Studies have revealed that one unit of mass of black carbon has a heating impact which is 460-1500 times stronger than carbon-di-oxide.
  • Due to its ability to increase heat in the environment, it is one of the major causes of the melting of ice or snow in the Arctic region.
  • Black carbon also adversely impacts human health and causes premature deaths, lung diseases, and other cardio-respiratory diseases.

Well, the good news is that since black carbon remains in the environment for relatively shorter periods, with targeted efforts, it is possible to reduce black carbon emissions.

Ways to Reduce Black Carbon Emissions

Let us now look at some ways in which we can reduce black carbon emissions:

  1. We can start in our houses by replacing traditional cooking that uses wood, with modern electric stoves.
  2. Use filters that reduce emissions from vehicles before they are released into the air.
  3. By placing a ban or strictly regulating the burning of agriculture and industrial waste.
  4. By switching to alternative sources of energy wherever possible and feasible.
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FAQs on Black Carbon

Q.1. How is black carbon formed?

If complete combustion took place when fossil fuels burned, then it would lead to the formation of carbon-di-oxide. However, this is not the case. Fossil fuels do not burn completely. This incomplete combustion results in the formation of black carbon.

Q.2. What are the major sources of black carbon?

Studies have shown that black carbon comes majorly from four sources:

  • Diesel engine emissions.
  • Open forests burning or forest fires.
  • Industrial processes that lead to black carbon emissions.
  • Solid fuels like coal and wood.

Q.3. Who are the largest emitters of black carbon in the world?

China and India are the largest black carbon emitters in the world. About 25-30% of the black carbon emissions can be attributed to China and India.

Q.4. How do we tackle the problems arising from black carbon emissions?

By reducing the use of wood fossil fuels and switching to alternative, sustainable sources of energy wherever possible, we can reduce black carbon emissions, which will, in turn, reduce the adverse impact that black carbon emissions have on the environment.