Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Smoke & Air Quality
Wildland fires are a major source of gases and aerosols, and the production, dispersion, and transformation of fire emissions have significant ambient air quality impacts and climate interactions. The increase in wildfire area burned and severity across the United States and Canada in recent decades has led to increased interest in expanding the use of prescribed fires as a forest management tool. While the primary goal of prescribed fire use is to limit the loss of life and property and ecosystem damage by constraining the growth and severity of future wildfires, a potential additional benefit of prescribed fire - reduction in the adverse impacts of smoke production and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions - has recently gained the interest of land management agencies and policy makers in the United States and other nations. The evaluation of prescribed fire/wildfire scenarios and the potential mitigation of adverse impacts on air quality and GHGs requires fuel layer specific pollutant emission factors (EFs) for fire prone forest ecosystems. Our study addresses this need with laboratory experiments measuring EFs for carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), ethyne (C2H2), formaldehyde (H2CO), formic acid (CH2O2), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and total reduced sulfur (TRS) for the burning of individual fuel components from three forest ecosystems which account for a large share of wildfire burned area and emissions in the western United States and Canada - Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and black spruce/jack pine.