The Use of Carbonaceous Particle Exposure Metrics in Health Impact Calculations
Combustion-related carbonaceous particles seem to be a better indicator of adverse health effects compared to PM2.5 and PM10. Historical studies are based on black smoke (BS), but more recent studies use absorbance (Abs), black carbon (BC) or elemental carbon (EC) as exposure indicators. To estimate health risks based on BS, we review the literature regarding the relationship between Abs, BS, BC and EC. We also discuss the uncertainties associated with the comparison of relative risks (RRs) based on these conversions. EC is reported to represent a proportion between 5.2% and 27% of BS with a mean value of 12%. Correlations of different metrics at one particular site are higher than when different sites are compared. Comparing all traffic, urban and rural sites, there is no systematic site dependence, indicating that other properties of the particles or errors affect the measurements and obscure the results. It is shown that the estimated daily mortality associated with short-term levels of EC is in the same range as PM10, but this is highly dependent on the EC to BS relationship that is used. RRs for all-cause mortality associated with short-term exposure to PM10 seem to be higher at sites with higher EC concentrations, but more data are needed to verify this.