Health effects of black carbon
This report presents the results of a systematic review of evidence of the health effects of black carbon (BC). Short-term epidemiological studies provide sufficient evidence of an association of daily variations in BC concentrations with short-term changes in health (all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and cardiopulmonary hospital admissions). Cohort studies provide sufficient evidence of associations of allcause and cardiopulmonary mortality with long-term average BC exposure. Studies of short-term health effects suggest that BC is a better indicator of harmful particulate substances from combustion sources (especially traffic) than undifferentiated particulate matter (PM) mass, but the evidence for the relative strength of association from long-term studies is inconclusive. The review of the results of all available toxicological studies suggested that BC may not be a major directly toxic component of fine PM, but it may operate as a universal carrier of a wide variety of chemicals of varying toxicity to the lungs, the body’s major defence cells and possibly the systemic blood circulation. A reduction in exposure to PM2.5 containing BC and other combustion-related PM material for which BC is an indirect indicator should lead to a reduction in the health effects associated with PM.