Science Inventory

Emissions from Combustion of Open Area Sources: Prescribed Forest and Agricultural Burns


Aurell, J., B. Gullett, AND D. Tabor. Emissions from Combustion of Open Area Sources: Prescribed Forest and Agricultural Burns. 14th International Congress on Combustion By-Products and Their Health Effects, Umea, SWEDEN, June 14 - 17, 2015.


Methods, effects of biomass types, and field vs laboratory simulations factors on emission factors from prescribed forest and agricultural burns are discussed.


Emissions from wildfires and prescribed forest and agricultural burns generate a variety of emissions that can cause adverse health effects for humans, contribute to climate change, and decrease visibility. Only limited pollutant data are available for these sources, particularly agricultural burns, due to the inherent difficulties and hazards in sampling these emissions. Emissions were measured from prescribed forest burns of managed longleaf pine and grass/savanna in western Florida (U.S.A.), as well as agricultural burns of wheat stubble and Kentucky Blue Grass fields in Idaho and Washington states (U.S.A.). Samples were collected to characterize the burn emission factors and provide data for plume dispersion models. Measurements were conducted by simultaneous aerial and ground sampling and these results were compared with measurements made in an open burn test facility (OBTF) at EPA’s research laboratory in North Carolina (U.S.A.).A light-weight instrument package termed the “Flyer” was used to sample polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter (PM2.5), elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), black carbon (BC), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). The Flyer was attached to a helium-filled, tethered aerostat (4.3 m in diameter) mounted to a remote controlled winch on an All- Terrain vehicle (ATV). An identical instrument package was attached to a 2 m high stand atop an ATV. The Flyer includes an on-board computer, control software, and a wireless transmitter which allows the sampling to be controlled from a distance. Field-gathered biomass from the forest and the wheat and grass stubble fields was collected, burned, and sampled for emissions in the OBTF. The OBTF is an enclosed, 70 m3, facility ventilated with a high-volume blower that pulls in ambient air and smaller interior fans that together ensure oxygen concentrations close to ambient conditions (simulating open burns) and ensure complete mixing. The same instrumental package was used in the OBTF as in the field.These results allow for comparison of field sampling methods and the relevancy of laboratory burn simulations. The development and application of a novel aerial sampling method provides a platform for measurement of a variety of sources in which lofted plumes, limited ground access, and fire safety hazards present difficulties for conventional, ground-based sampling.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 06/14/2015
Record Last Revised: 11/05/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 310084