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Biomass burning in the Amazon region: Aerosol source apportionment and associated health risk assessment

Abstract : The Brazilian Amazon represents about 40% of the world's remaining tropical rainforest. However, human activities have become important drivers of disturbance in that region. The majority of forest fire hotspots in the Amazon arc due to deforestation are impacting the health of the local population of over 10 million inhabitants. In this study we characterize western Amazonia biomass burning emissions through the quantification of 14 Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Organic Carbon, Elemental Carbon and unique tracers of biomass burning such as levoglucosan. From the PAHs dataset a toxic equivalence factor is calculated estimating the carcinogenic and mutagenic potential of biomass burning emissions during the studied period. Peak concentration of PM10 during the dry seasons was observed to reach 60 μg m−3 on the 24 h average. Conversely, PM10 was relatively constant throughout the wet season indicating an overall stable balance between aerosol sources and sinks within the filter sampling resolution. Similar behavior is identified for OC and EC components. Levoglucosan was found in significant concentrations (up to 4 μg m−3) during the dry season. Correspondingly, the estimated lung cancer risk calculated during the dry seasons largely exceeded the WHO health-based guideline. A source apportionment study was carried out through the use of Absolute Principal Factor Analysis (APFA), identifying a three-factor solution. The biomass burning factor is found to be the dominating aerosol source, having 75.4% of PM10 loading. The second factor depicts an important contribution of several PAHs without a single source class and therefore was considered as mixed sources factor, contributing to 6.3% of PM10. The third factor was mainly associated with fossil fuel combustion emissions, contributing to 18.4% of PM10. This work enhances the knowledge of aerosol sources and its impact on climate variability and local population, on a site representative of the deforestation which occupies a significant fraction of the Amazon basin.
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Contributor : Joel Ferreira de Brito <>
Submitted on : Thursday, July 12, 2018 - 9:19:07 AM
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Nilmara de Oliveira Alves, Joel Brito, Sofia Caumo, Andrea Arana, Sandra de Souza Hacon, et al.. Biomass burning in the Amazon region: Aerosol source apportionment and associated health risk assessment. Atmospheric Environment, Elsevier, 2015, 120, pp.277-285. ⟨10.1016/j.atmosenv.2015.08.059⟩. ⟨hal-01836109⟩



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