Measuring and predicting personal and household Black Carbon levels from 88 communities in eight countries

PURE-AIR study investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Black Carbon (BC) is an important component of household air pollution (HAP) in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), but levels and drivers of exposure are poorly understood. As part of the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study, we analyzed 48-hour BC measurements for 1187 individual and 2242 household samples from 88 communities in 8 LMICs (Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe). Light absorbance (10−5 m−1) of collected PM2.5 filters, a proxy for BC concentrations, was calculated via an image-based reflectance method. Surveys of household/personal characteristics and behaviors were collected after monitoring. The geometric mean (GM) of personal and household BC measures was 2.4 (3.3) and 3.5 (3.9)·10−5 m−1, respectively. The correlation between BC and PM2.5 was r = 0.76 for personal and r = 0.82 for household measures. A gradient of increasing BC concentrations was observed for cooking fuels: BC increased 53% (95%CI: 30, 79) for coal, 142% (95%CI: 117, 169) for wood, and 190% (95%CI: 149, 238) for other biomass, compared to gas. Each hour of cooking was associated with an increase in household (5%, 95%CI: 3, 7) and personal (5%, 95%CI: 2, 8) BC; having a window in the kitchen was associated with a decrease in household (−38%, 95%CI: −45, −30) and personal (−31%, 95%CI: −44, −15) BC; and cooking on a mud stove, compared to a clean stove, was associated with an increase in household (125%, 95%CI: 96, 160) and personal (117%, 95%CI: 71, 117) BC. Male participants only had slightly lower personal BC (−0.6%, 95%CI: −1, 0.0) compared to females. In multivariate models, we were able to explain 46–60% of household BC variation and 33–54% of personal BC variation. These data and models provide new information on exposure to BC in LMICs, which can be incorporated into future exposure assessments, health research, and policy surrounding HAP and BC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number151849
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2022


  • Black Carbon
  • Exposure
  • Fine particulate matter
  • Household air pollution
  • Measurement


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