Recent studies have shown that exposure to particulate black carbon (BC) has significant adverse health effects and may be more detrimental to human health than exposure to PM2.5 as a whole. Mobile source BC emission controls, mostly on diesel-burning vehicles, have successfully decreased mobile source BC emissions to less than half of what they were 30 years ago. Quantification of the benefits of previous emissions controls conveys the value of these regulatory actions and provides a method by which future control alternatives could be evaluated. In this study we use the adjoint of the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model to estimate highly-resolved spatial distributions of benefits related to emission reductions for six urban regions within the continental US. Emissions from outside each of the six chosen regions account for between 7% and 27% of the premature deaths attributed to exposure to BC within the region. While we estimate that nonroad mobile and onroad diesel emissions account for the largest number of premature deaths attributable to exposure to BC, onroad gasoline is shown to have more than double the benefit per unit emission relative to that of nonroad mobile and onroad diesel. Within the region encompassing New York City and Philadelphia, reductions in emissions from large industrial combustion sources that are not classified as EGUs (i.e., non-EGU) are estimated to have up to triple the benefits per unit emission relative to reductions to onroad diesel sectors, and provide similar benefits per unit emission to that of onroad gasoline emissions in the region. While onroad mobile emissions have been decreasing in the past 30 years and a majority of vehicle emission controls that regulate PM focus on diesel emissions, our analysis shows the most efficient target for stricter controls is actually onroad gasoline emissions.

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Keywords aerosols, air quality, human well-being, particulate matter, source attribution
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Journal Environmental Research Letters
Turner, M.D. (Matthew D.), Henze, D.K. (Daven K), Capps, S.L. (Shannon L), Hakami, A, Zhao, S. (Shunliu), Resler, J. (Jaroslav), … Chai, T. (Tianfeng). (2015). Premature deaths attributed to source-specific BC emissions in six urban US regions. Environmental Research Letters, 10(11). doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/11/114014