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Characterisation of the impact of open biomass burning on urban air quality in Brisbane, Australia


He, C and Miljevic, B and Crilley, LR and Surawski, NC and Bartsch, J and Salimi, F and Uhde, E and Schnelle-Kreis, J and Orasche, J and Ristovski, Z and Ayoko, GA and Zimmermann, R and Morawska, L, Characterisation of the impact of open biomass burning on urban air quality in Brisbane, Australia, Environment International, 91 pp. 230-242. ISSN 0160-4120 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.envint.2016.02.030


Open biomass burning from wildfires and the prescribed burning of forests and farmland is a frequent occurrence in South-East Queensland (SEQ), Australia. This work reports on data collected from 10 to 30 September 2011, which covers the days before (10-14 September), during (15-20 September) and after (21-30 September) a period of biomass burning in SEQ. The aim of this project was to comprehensively quantify the impact of the biomass burning on air quality in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland. A multi-parameter field measurement campaign was conducted and ambient air quality data from 13 monitoring stations across SEQ were analysed. During the burning period, the average concentrations of all measured pollutants increased (from 20% to 430%) compared to the non-burning period (both before and after burning), except for total xylenes. The average concentration of O3, NO2, SO2, benzene, formaldehyde, PM10, PM2.5 and visibility-reducing particles reached their highest levels for the year, which were up to 10 times higher than annual average levels, while PM10, PM2.5 and SO2 concentrations exceeded the WHO 24-hour guidelines and O3 concentration exceeded the WHO maximum 8-hour average threshold during the burning period. Overall spatial variations showed that all measured pollutants, with the exception of O3, were closer to spatial homogeneity during the burning compared to the non-burning period. In addition to the above, elevated concentrations of three biomass burning organic tracers (levoglucosan, mannosan and galactosan), together with the amount of non-refractory organic particles (PM1) and the average value of f60 (attributed to levoglucosan), reinforce that elevated pollutant concentration levels were due to emissions from open biomass burning events, 70% of which were prescribed burning events. This study, which is the first and most comprehensive of its kind in Australia, provides quantitative evidence of the significant impact of open biomass burning events, especially prescribed burning, on urban air quality. The current results provide a solid platform for more detailed health and modelling investigations in the future.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Aerosol, Aerosol mass spectrometry, Air pollutant, Bushfire, Particle, Wildfire
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Atmospheric sciences
Research Field:Atmospheric aerosols
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Air quality, atmosphere and weather
Objective Field:Atmospheric processes and dynamics
UTAS Author:Salimi, F (Dr Farhad Salimi)
ID Code:109629
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-06-23
Last Modified:2017-02-20

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