Emissions of Selected Semivolatile Organic Chemicals from Forest and Savannah Fires

Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Feb 7;51(3):1293-1302. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03503. Epub 2017 Jan 18.


The emission factors (EFs) for a broad range of semivolatile organic chemicals (SVOCs) from subtropical eucalypt forest and tropical savannah fires were determined for the first time from in situ investigations. Significantly higher (t test, P < 0.01) EFs (μg kg-1 dry fuel, gas + particle-associated) for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (∑13 PAHs) were determined from the subtropical forest fire (7,000 ± 170) compared to the tropical savannah fires (1,600 ± 110), due to the approximately 60-fold higher EFs for 3-ring PAHs from the former. EF data for many PAHs from the eucalypt forest fire were comparable with those previously reported from pine and fir forest combustion events. EFs for other SVOCs including polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), polychlorinated naphthalene (PCN), and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) congeners as well as some pesticides (e.g., permethrin) were determined from the subtropical eucalypt forest fire. The highest concentrations of total suspended particles, PAHs, PCBs, PCNs, and PBDEs, were typically observed in the flaming phase of combustion. However, concentrations of levoglucosan and some pesticides such as permethrin peaked during the smoldering phase. Along a transect (10-150-350 m) from the forest fire, concentration decrease for PCBs during flaming was faster compared to PAHs, while levoglucosan concentrations increased.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fires*
  • Forests
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons*


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls