Organic particulate emissions from field burning of garden and agriculture residues

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To assess the particulate matter (PM) composition, the smoke from three different agriculture and garden residues, commonly subjected to open field burning in Northern Portugal (potato haulm (A), arable weed vegetation (B) and collard greens stalks/pruned green leafy-twigs (C)) have been sampled into 3 different size fractions (PM2.5, PM2.5–10 and PM> 10). To replicate another frequent practise of reducing or dispose agriculture/garden debris, residue C was complementarily burned in a metal container with addition of used lubricant oil. The size-segregated aerosol samples were analysed for elemental (EC) and organic (OC) carbon by a thermal–optical transmission technique. The organosoluble OC was fractionated by vacuum flash chromatography and analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Burning of residue C produced the highest PM emissions. OC was the dominant carbonaceous component in all aerosol samples, contributing to about 98% of total carbon (TC). The detailed chemical profiles of particulate emissions, including organic tracer compounds, have been assessed. The contribution of phenolics (0.2–39% OC, w/w) and organic acids (1.5–13% OC, w/w) to OC was always predominant over other organic compounds, whose distribution patterns were found to vary from one residue to another. The polyphenols, as the guaiacyl derivatives, were particularly abundant in PM from the residue C burning, but anthropogenic constituents completely superimposed the emission profiles after addition of used lubricant oil. It was shown that the prevailing ambient conditions (such as high humidity) likely contributed to atmospheric processes (e.g. coagulation and hygroscopic growth), which influenced the particle size characteristics of the smoke tracers, shifting their distribution to larger diameters. Since it was shown that the relative contribution of different carbon forms and organic compounds may strongly depend on the size of the particulate matter, the barely analysis of one size fraction cannot be reliable enough to assess neither global emission tendencies nor the profiles of individual chemical components in smoke.Highlights► The particulate matter (PM) from burning of three agriculture residues was studied. ► The PM> 10 concentrations were significantly higher than other PM fractions. ► The carbonaceous fraction was dominated by organic carbon (OC/TC ~ 98%). ► Phenolics and organic acids were always predominant compounds in smoke particles. ► Inositol is proposed as an eventual tracer for the smoke from potato haulm burning.