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Black carbon

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Black carbon


What to study?

For Prelims: What is black carbon?

For Mains: concerns associated, need for regulation.


Context: According to a recent study published, black carbon particles emitted by the vehicular exhaust and coal-fired power plants, have been detected on the fetus-facing side of the placenta.

This is expected to affect the overall development of the unborn baby.



  1. Concentration of black carbon particles was highest in the placentas of women who are most exposed to airborne pollutants in their daily life.
  2. Inhalation of these particles by the mother gets translocated from the mothers’ lungs to the placenta, resulting in life-long changes to the development of the baby along with permanently damaging the lung tissues.
  3. The link between exposure to dirty air and increased cases of miscarriages, premature births, and low birth weights which in turn increases the chances for diabetes, asthma, stroke, heart disease and a lot of other conditions, has been established in this study.


What is Black Carbon?

Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms. It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.


Harmful effects of BC:

Black carbon (BC) is a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders. Because BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can upset the monsoon system. If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.



Sources: the Hindu.