Highway proximity and black carbon from cookstoves as a risk factor for higher blood pressure in rural China
China’s economic growth and infrastructure development has led to increased emissions from coal-fired power plants and an expanding fleet of motor vehicles. Black carbon (BC) from incomplete biomass and fossil fuel combustion is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM) air pollution and the second most important climate-forcing human emission. A team of researchers, mostly from the University of Chinese Academy Sciences in Beijing, enrolled 280 women living in a rural area of northwestern Yunnan where biomass fuels are commonly used in a study to look at the effect of black carbon and particulate matter on human health.
Researchers measured subject’s blood pressure, distance from major traffic routes, and daily exposure to BC, water-soluble organic aerosol (from biomass combustion), and, in a subset, hopane markers (motor vehicle emissions) in winter and summer. BC had the strongest association with systolic blood pressure (SBP). Findings suggest that BC’s health effects may be greater among women who experience higher exposure to biomass cooking fuels and motor vehicle emissions.