Speciated and total emission factors of particulate organics from burning western US wildland fuels and their dependence on combustion efficiency

Coty N. Jen, Lindsay E. Hatch, Vanessa Selimovic, Robert J. Yokelson, Robert Weber, Arantza E. Fernandez, Nathan M. Kreisberg, Kelley C. Barsanti, Allen H. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Western US wildlands experience frequent and large-scale wildfires which are predicted to increase in the future. As a result, wildfire smoke emissions are expected to play an increasing role in atmospheric chemistry while negatively impacting regional air quality and human health. Understanding the impacts of smoke on the environment is informed by identifying and quantifying the chemical compounds that are emitted during wildfires and by providing empirical relationships that describe how the amount and composition of the emissions change based upon different fire conditions and fuels. This study examined particulate organic compounds emitted from burning common western US wildland fuels at the US Forest Service Fire Science Laboratory. Thousands of intermediate and semi-volatile organic compounds (I/SVOCs) were separated and quantified into fire-integrated emission factors (EFs) using a thermal desorption, two-dimensional gas chromatograph with online derivatization coupled to an electron ionization/vacuum ultraviolet high-resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometer (TD-GC-GC-EI/VUV-HRToFMS). Mass spectra, EFs as a function of modified combustion efficiency (MCE), fuel source, and other defining characteristics for the separated compounds are provided in the accompanying mass spectral library. Results show that EFs for total organic carbon (OC), chemical families of I/SVOCs, and most individual I/SVOCs span 2-5 orders of magnitude, with higher EFs at smoldering conditions (low MCE) than flaming. Logarithmic fits applied to the observations showed that log (EFs) for particulate organic compounds were inversely proportional to MCE. These measurements and relationships provide useful estimates of EFs for OC, elemental carbon (EC), organic chemical families, and individual I/SVOCs as a function of fire conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1026
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 25 2019


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