Characterization of PM2.5 collected during broadcast and slash-pile prescribed burns of predominately ponderosa pine forests in northern Arizona

Marin S Robinson, Min Zhao, Lindsay Zack, Christine Brindley, Lillian Portz, Matthew Quarterman, Xiufen Long, Pierre Herckes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Prescribed burning, in combination with mechanical thinning, is a successful method for reducing heavy fuel loads from forest floors and thereby lowering the risk of catastrophic wildfire. However, an undesirable consequence of managed fire is the production of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 (particles ≤2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter). Wood-smoke particulate data from 21 prescribed burns are described, including results from broadcast and slash-pile burns. All PM2.5 samples were collected in situ on day 1 (ignition) or day 2. Samples were analyzed for mass, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), inorganic elements, organic carbon (OC), and elemental carbon (EC). Results were characteristic of low-intensity, smoldering fires. PM2.5 concentrations varied from 523 to 8357 μg m-3 and were higher on day 1. PAH weight percents (19 PAHs) were higher in slash-pile burns (0.21 ± 0.08% OC) than broadcast burns (0.07 ± 0.03% OC). The major elements were K, Cl, S, and Si. OC and EC values averaged 66 ± 7 and 2.8 ± 1.4% PM2.5, respectively, for all burns studied, in good agreement with literature values for smoldering fires.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2087-2094
Number of pages8
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number12
StatePublished - Apr 2011



  • Elemental carbon
  • Fine particulate matter
  • Organic carbon
  • PM
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Prescribed burn
  • Wood-smoke particulate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science(all)

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