Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from residential wood and crop residue burning were measured in Colorado, U.S. When compared to the emissions from crop burning, residential wood burning exhibited markedly lower concentrations of acetonitrile, a commonly used biomass burning tracer. For both herbaceous and arboraceous fuels, the emissions of nitrogen-containing VOCs (NVOCs) strongly depend on the fuel nitrogen content; therefore, low NVOC emissions from residential wood burning result from the combustion of low-nitrogen fuel. Consequently, the emissions of compounds hazardous to human health, such as HNCO and HCN, and the formation of secondary pollutants, such as ozone generated by NOx, are likely to depend on fuel nitrogen. These results also demonstrate that acetonitrile may not be a suitable tracer for domestic burning in urban areas. Wood burning emissions may be best identified through analysis of the emissions profile rather than reliance on a single tracer species.
- biomass burning
- fuel composition
- nitrogen-containing volatile organic compounds