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Application Note

Black carbon pollution monitoring

MaxiMet weather stations integrate with Aethalometer® for accurate black carbon (PM2.5) pollution monitoring


Black carbon is a component of fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) formed by the incomplete combustion of wood and fossil fuels. It can be generated typically by diesel engines, coal-fired power plants as well as other man made and natural sources.

Black carbon is a global environmental problem that has negative implications for both human health and the climate. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) pose the greatest risk to health as they can get deep into lungs and even cross into the bloodstream. Inhalation of black carbon is associated with health problems including respiratory and cardiovascular disease and cancer.

From a climate perspective, the presence of black carbon contributes to raising air and surface temperatures as it is highly effective at absorbing light and heating its surroundings. Black carbon also influences cloud formation and has the potential to alter weather including rainfall patterns.

The climate emergency is further accelerating the need for action on black carbon. The Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)  states ‘black carbon’s short atmospheric lifetime, combined with its strong warming potential, means that targeted strategies to reduce emissions can provide climate and health benefits relatively quickly’.*


For the reasons above, there is increasing focus on addressing levels of black carbon (BC) and this requires reliable monitoring methods.

Levels of fine particulate BC (PM2.5) are the most critical and vary significantly around the world so its effects are not seen equally. The European Environment Agency (EEA) has stated the need for better black carbon monitoring to assess health and climate change impacts. In addition, the EU Air Quality (AQ) Directive requires member states to sample, analyse and report fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations.

With respect to air pollution and specifically pedestrian exposure, it is crucial for black carbon mass concentration to be monitored and regulated in areas dominated by traffic-related air pollution.**  

Methodologies for air quality monitoring need to produce standardized and comparable measurements to provide confidence in the measures themselves as well as the ability to assess the impact of actions.  


Aerosol Magee Scientific is a leader in this field, driving awareness of carbonaceous aerosols and their impact on climate change as well as their adverse health effects. They are considered the world’s foremost experts in these measurement systems and procedures and support governmental, research and other organisations to achieve reliable air quality data that can lead to policies to make the environment safer and healthier.

The measurement of black carbon naturally benefits from an understanding of the environmental conditions including wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity and pressure in order to both correlate the effects of these meteorological parameters on PM2.5, but also the effects of PM2.5 on weather conditions themselves. Plots of BC concentrations as a function of wind speed and direction can allow for the identification of local or external sources of the pollutant*** and contribute to the understanding of its movement and spread under different conditions.

Aerosol Magee Scientific instruments are considered to be the most thorough and reliable instruments for the measurement and research of black carbon and other forms of carbon for air quality monitoring. Gill MaxiMet® compact weather stations have been selected by Aerosol Magee Scientific to complement their systems with accurate, high quality weather measurement including wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity and pressure. MaxiMet weather stations can be integrated into a total system.   

For further information please see:

Aerosol Magee Scientific

MaxiMet compact weather stations


Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

**Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology      

*** European Environment Agency   

PM2.5 pollution is a global problem for health and the environment 

MaxiMet range of integrated multi-parameter weather stations are designed to be integrated into larger systems

MaxiMet weather stations are easy to set up and integrate, incorporating highly accurate and reliable solid-state sensors (no moving parts). MaxiMet is available in a range of models with different combinations of sensors to suit the application.  

Recommended weather stations for integration within black carbon monitoring systems...

MaxiMet GMX500 compact integrated weather station measures wind speed & direction, temperature, humidity & pressure.

MaxiMet is an advanced compact weather station designed and manufactured by Gill Instruments using proven technology to measure meteorological and environmental parameters to international standards.