Russell W. Long, Andrew Whitehill, Andrew Habel, Shawn P. Urbanski, Hannah Halliday, Maribel Colón, Surender Kaushik, Matthew S. Landis
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Smoke & Air Quality
Smoke Emissions
Smoke Emissions and Inventory

NRFSN number: 23633
Record updated: October 18, 2021

In recent years wildland fires in the United States have had significant impacts on local and regional air quality and negative human health outcomes. Although the primary health concerns from wildland fires come from fine particulate matter (PM2:5), large increases in ozone (O3) have been observed downwind of wildland fire plumes (DeBell et al., 2004; Bytnerowicz et al., 2010; Preisler et al., 2010; Jaffe et al., 2012; Bytnerowicz et al., 2013; Jaffe et al., 2013; Lu et al., 2016; Lindaas et al., 2017; McClure and Jaffe, 2018; Liu et al., 2018; Baylon et al., 2018; Buysse et al., 2019). Conditions generated in and around wildland fire plumes, including the presence of interfering chemical species, can make the accurate measurement of O3 concentrations using the ultraviolet (UV) photometric method challenging if not impossible. UV photometric method instruments are prone to interferences by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present at high concentrations in wildland fire smoke. Four different O3 measurement methodologies were deployed in a mobile sampling platform downwind of active prescribed grassland fire lines in Kansas and Oregon and during controlled chamber burns at the United States Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana. We demonstrate that the Federal Reference Method (FRM) nitric oxide (NO) chemiluminescence monitors and Federal Equivalent Method (FEM) gasphase (NO) chemical scrubber UV photometric O3 monitors are relatively interference-free, even in near-field combustion plumes. In contrast, FEM UV photometric O3 monitors using solid-phase catalytic scrubbers show positive artifacts that are positively correlated with carbon monoxide (CO) and total gas-phase hydrocarbon (THC), two indicator species of biomass burning. Of the two catalytic scrubber UV photometric methods evaluated, the instruments that included a Nafion® tube dryer in the sample introduction system had artifacts an order of magnitude smaller than the instrument with no humidity correction. We hypothesize that Nafion®- permeating VOCs (such as aromatic hydrocarbons) could be a significant source of interference for catalytic scrubber UV photometric O3 monitors and that the inclusion of a Nafion® tube dryer assists with the mitigation of these interferences. The chemiluminescence FRM method is highly recommended for accurate measurements of O3 in wildland fire plume studies and at regulatory ambient monitoring sites frequently impacted by wildland fire smoke.


Long, Russell W.; Whitehill, Andrew; Habel, Andrew; Urbanski, Shawn; Halliday, Hannah; Colon, Maribel; Kaushik, Surender; Landis, Matthew S. 2021. Comparison of ozone measurement methods in biomass burning smoke: An evaluation under field and laboratory conditions. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques. 14(3): 1783-1800.

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