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Abstract - Air pollution in China and other parts of Asia poses large health risks and is an important contributor to global climate change. Almost half of Chinese homes use biomass and coal fuels for cooking and heating. 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. PM composition and sources may also be related to its human health impact. We enrolled 280 women living in a rural area of northwestern Yunnan where biomass fuels are commonly used. We measured their blood pressure, distance from major traffic routes, and daily exposure to BC (pyrolytic biomass combustion), water-soluble organic aerosol (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) (4.3 mmHg; P < 0.001), followed by PM mass and water-soluble organic mass. The effect of BC on SBP was almost three times greater in women living near the highway [6.2 mmHg; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3.6 to 8.9 vs. 2.6 mmHg; 95% CI, 0.1 to 5.2]. Our findings suggest that BC from combustion emissions is more strongly associated with blood pressure than PM mass, and that BC’s health effects may be larger among women living near a highway and with greater exposure to motor vehicle emissions.
Baumgartnera, J., Y. Zhangc, J. J. Schauerd, W. Huangc, Y. Wangc, & M. Ezzati (2014) Highway proximity and black carbon from cookstoves as a risk factor for higher blood pressure in rural China, PNAS 11(36):13229-13234.