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Dust and Gas Emissions from Small-Scale Peat Combustion

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Volume: 13 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 1045-1059
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2012.08.0214
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Murnira Othman, Mohd Talib Latif

  • School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi Selangor, Malaysia


While peatland has long been exploited for agricultural activities, these make it vulnerable to fires, which emit pollutants into the atmosphere and adversely affect air quality. The aim of this study was thus to determine the main composition of air pollutants from peat soil combustion. The main parameters of the related gas pollutants, e.g., SO2, NO2, CO, O3 and PM10, and their components, such as anions, cations, heavy metals and levoglucosan, have been determined. The gas concentration was determined using the colorimetric method after the air had been assimilated into absorbing solutions. The PM10 concentration was established using a low volume air sampler equipped with weighted filter paper. The anion concentration of PM10 was analyzed using ion chromatography, while the cation and heavy metal concentrations were ascertained using inductively couple plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). Moreover, the concentration of levoglucosan was determined using the Anthrone-Sulfuric Colorimetric method. The results show that the dominant gas from the emission of burning peat soil was CO (13850–20610 μg/m3) followed by NO2 (608–831 μg/m3), SO2 (113–367 μg/m3) and O3 (76–156 μg/m3). A high PM10 concentration was released from 1 h peat soil combustion with a range of 778–3444 μg/m3. The composition of heavy metals in PM10 shows the sequence of Zn > Al > Fe > Cr > Pb > Cu > Ni > Cd. The sequence of anion and cation concentrations in PM10 was NO3 > SO42– > Na+ > Cl > Ca2+ > K+ >F > Mg2+. Levoglucosan was found to be a good indicator for peat combustion at a range of 1.44–3.90 μmol/m3. This research shows that the emission of peat soil fires produces various amounts of air pollutants that affect the environment and chemical reactions in the atmosphere.


Peatland fires PM10 Anion Cation Levoglucosan Heavy metals Gas

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