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Carbon Black: Exposure Risks

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Published on Oct 25, 2012

Carbon black is the general term used to describe a powdery commercial form of carbon. It is also known as Lamp black, Furnace black, Thermal black, and Channel black.

Carbon black can also form as an air-polluting particle when fuels (like gasoline, diesel fuel and coal) are not completely burned. These carbon black particles are often coated with other chemicals making them more hazardous than commercially produced pure carbon black. The particle coatings may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also known as PAHs.

Carbon black is used by industry to strengthen and color rubber. It is also used to color inks, coatings, plastics and leather, and to insulate electrical equipment. Carbon black from vegetable origins is even used as a food coloring agent. In confined spaces, carbon black is considered to be a potential combustible dust hazard.

Most exposure to carbon black occurs when people breathe contaminated air. This type of exposure usually occurs in the workplace. However, outdoor air can sometimes contain traces due to its release by industries.

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