Most of China’s Infamous Black Carbon Smog Comes From Cars And Cook Fires | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Most of China’s Infamous Black Carbon Smog Comes From Cars And Cook Fires

Surprisingly, until now authorities struggled to pinpoint the main pollution culprits behind the black carbon, or soot

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Photo: Suicup

China’s cities are infamous for their thick haze of air pollution. Just this week, Hong Kong hit an extreme high of 187 on the air pollution index, prompting the government to issue a warning for children, sick people and the elderly to stay inside. Surprisingly, however, authorities struggled to pinpoint the main sources of the soot. Now, a new study reveals two guilty parties: traffic and home cooking. UPI reports:

A powerful carbon-14 identification method was used to trace fully four-fifths of the black carbon emitted in China to incomplete combustion of fossil fuel such as coal briquettes used in home cook stoves and automobile and truck exhaust, they reported.

“The current results suggest reduction measures in China should focus on domestic coal combustion (e.g., introduction of cleaner-burning cookers and heaters) and vehicle emissions (e.g., application of diesel particle filters),” the authors write in their paper. These sort of mitigation efforts, they say, could, over time, improve air quality and, by extension, the health of China’s residents. Mitigation would also reduce China’s contribution to climate change.

China says it’s on it. The country just announced a program aimed to cut air pollution by cutting back on coal consumption and increasing its capacity for clean energy, Business Insider reports. These efforts, the government estimate, will run around $277 billion USD, or 1.7 trillion yuan.

More from Smithsonian.com:

China Acknowledges It Has a Problem with Pollution-Laden ‘Cancer Villages’  
Air Pollution as Seen from the Skies 

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