Girl Planting seeds

Researchers find organic carbons are also absorbing light—and likely harming people's health

A telltale signature of a cookstove, commonly used to prepare food or provide heat by burning wood, charcoal, animal dung or crop residue, is the thick, sooty smoke that rises from the flames. Its remnants, black stains left on the walls and clothes and in the lungs of the people—usually women—who tend to the stoves, are a striking reminder of the hazards the stoves pose both to human health and to the environment. But soot is only part of the story when it comes to environmental impact—about half of it, it turns out. As the temperatures in a cookstove begin to drop, and the black smoke turns grayish-white, soot (or black carbon) emission is replaced by organic carbon. Research from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has revealed that, despite its whitish appearance, organic carbon particles absorb as much—if not more—sunlight in the atmosphere as black carbon. And its health effects may be worse for the nearly 2.7 billion households worldwide that use them.  Read more....



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