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Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): Charles K. McMahon; Jerry D. White; Skevos N. Tsoukalas
Publication Date: 1985

Several million hectares of the United States are covered by organic soils. During droughts, these soils can ignite and support slow combustion which often persists for weeks causing serious air pollution problems in nearby populated areas. Small blocks of organic so11 collected in south-central Florida were burned and monitored at the Southern Forest Fire Laboratory. The soils sustained combustion for up to 4 days, even through layers containing 135 percent moisture. Peak temperatures were in the 400-600°C range. Particulate matter emission factors ranged from 1 to 63 g kg^-1. The particulate matter was soot free and virtually all organic: in nature (95 percent soluble in methylene chloride). The particulate matter was separated into neutral, strong acid, weak acid (phenolic) and basic fractions. The neutral fraction, which predominated (63 percent), was further separated by silicic acid column chromatography into four subfractions. The subfractions containing polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAR) were purified by gel permeation chromatography and analyzed by gas chromatography. Percent distributions of various PAR ring systems were determined. Organic soil particulate matter was found to contain high percentages of methyl and polymethyl PAR's in the three and four ring PAR systems. Emission factors for carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and total hydrocarbons as methane are also reported.

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Link to this document (17 MB; pdf)
Citation: McMahon, Charles K.; White, Jerry D.; Tsoukalas, Skevos N. 1985. Organic compounds in the particulate matter from burning organic soils. 12 p.

Cataloging Information

  • emission factors
  • Florida
  • laboratory fires
  • organic compounds
  • organic soils
  • PAH - polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
  • PM - particulate matter
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 11516