Study reveals black soot pollution even more dangerous than previously thought

There are a myriad of reasons why your organisation might choose to switch to efficient green cars with a lower rate of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions - not least of which is the potential reduction in petrol expenses.

Another reason which has led to many motorists trading in their old gas guzzlers for hybrid vehicles is the effect that fossil fuels are having on the environment, in terms of air pollution and global warming.

That fact has been reinforced even further recently by a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, which revealed that black carbon - a soot which is a by-product of the process of burning fossil fuels and biomass - is even more harmful to the environment than previously thought.

According to the report, black carbon is actually twice as potent than was originally determined by a UN study in 2007, making it the second most harmful known climate pollutant, behind only carbon dioxide and ahead of methane gas.

"Black carbon is not only more important for climate than we thought, it also kills over a million people every year who contract deadly respiratory diseases by breathing air polluted by black carbon," Durwood Zaelke, the president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said in a statement.

However the good news is that the report also confirmed that because black soot - which is emitted primarily by diesel engines, as well as brick kilns and wood-fired cook stoves - has a relatively short atmospheric lifespan, it could make an ideal pollutant to target for reduction in order to slow the process of global warming.

The chief of the United Nations Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, has said that the research provides compelling evidence of the necessity to act on "short-lived climate pollutants", such as black carbon.

If your organisation operates a fleet of company vehicles that utilise diesel engines, it may be worthwhile considering how converting to cleaner green cars might benefit both your company and the environment.

Even enterprises which operate solely with regular petrol engines can stand to benefit from converting to green cars, and should therefore consider the advantages of this option in the future.