What is Soot?

air pollution, dirt, soot, air quality, dangers, health, smoke, black carbon, fire, los angeles

From the result of an incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons comes soot – an environmental contaminant. You can see these coming from the exhaust pipes of diesel trucks, smokestacks (long chimney-like structures in industrial settings) and paper thrown in fire.

Soot is the common name for “PM” or “particulate matter” – a mixture of tiny particles and liquid droplets formed in the air from metals, acids, and chemicals like sulfur and nitrogen oxides that are coming from power plants, oil refineries, and motor vehicles.

Particulate matter or PM can be so small that it can only be detected with an electron microscope. Considering these particles are so small, it can enter our lungs without notice.


No. Soot is deadly. It causes thousands of premature deaths, asthma attacks, and heart attacks each year.

The trouble they cause is directly linked to the size of those tiny particles. These are smaller than a speck of dust, and less than 1/30th the width of human hair, without notice can pass through the nose and throat, embed in the lungs, and enter the bloodstream. The composition and actual size of these soot is different depending on where you are.


The most significant sources of soot are diesel engines, vehicle tailpipes, coal plant, smokestacks, oil refineries, fires, use of grills, fireplaces, cookstoves, and many others. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more than 70 millions American live in areas that are in violation of the health standards. That’s 70 million people exposed to levels that EPA deem unsafe.


Soot particles absorbs the radiation from the sun and hasten the melting of snow and ice cover when they fall to the ground. Black carbon – the main component of soot – is referred to as a “climate forcer”. Soot is a major cause of global warming.

air pollution, dirt, soot, air quality, health, dangers


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