Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Daven Ker Henze

Second Advisor

Jana Milford

Third Advisor

Michael Hannigan

Fourth Advisor

Amir Hakami

Fifth Advisor

Pater Hamlington


Fine particulate matter (PM2:5) is an air pollutant consisting of a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Knowledge of the sources and distributions of PM2:5 is important for many reasons, two of which are that PM2:5 has an adverse effect on human health and also an effect on climate change. Recent studies have suggested that health benefits resulting from a unit decrease in black carbon (BC) are four to nine times larger than benefits resulting from an equivalent change in PM2:5 mass. The goal of this thesis is to quantify the role of emissions from different sectors and different locations in governing the total health impacts, risk, and maximum individual risk of exposure to BC both nationally and regionally in the US. We develop and use the CMAQ adjoint model to quantify the role of emissions from all modeled sectors, times, and locations on premature deaths attributed to exposure to BC. From a national analysis, we find that damages resulting from anthropogenic emissions of BC are strongly correlated with population and premature death. However, we find little correlation between damages and emission magnitude, suggesting that controls on the largest emissions may not be the most efficient means of reducing damages resulting from BC emissions. Rather, the best proxy for locations with damaging BC emissions is locations where premature deaths occur. Onroad diesel and nonroad vehicle emissions are the largest contributors to premature deaths attributed to exposure to BC, while onroad gasoline emissions cause the highest deaths per amount emitted. Additionally, emissions in fall and winter contribute to more premature deaths (and more per amount emitted) than emissions in spring and summer. From a regional analysis, we find that emissions from outside each of six urban areas account for 7% to 27% of the premature deaths attributed to exposure to BC within the region. 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 of reductions to onroad diesel sectors, and provide similar benefits per unit of reduced emission to that of onroad gasoline emissions in the region. While 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. From an analysis of the health impacts of BC emissions on specific demographic populations, we find that emissions in the southern half of the US tend to disproportionally affect persons with a below high school education and persons below 50% of the poverty level. Analysis of national risk (independent of population and mortality rates) shows that the largest risks are associated with drier climates, due to the increased atmospheric lifetime resulting from less wet removal of aerosols. Lastly, analysis of the impacts of BC emissions on maximum individual risk shows that contributions to maximum individual risk are weakly to strongly correlated with emissions (R2 ranging from 0.23 in the San Joaquin Valley to 0.93 in the Dallas region). Overall, this thesis shows the value of high-resolution, adjoint-based source attribution studies for determining the locations, seasons, and sectors that have the greatest estimated impact on human health in air quality models.