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Assessment of the Contribution of Wildfires to Ozone Concentrations in the Central US-Mexico Border Region

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Volume: 13 | Issue: 3 | Pages: 838-848
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2012.08.0232
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Marie-Cecile Chalbot 1, Ilias G. Kavouras1, David W. Dubois2

  • 1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
  • 2 Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA

Abstract

The annual trends and spatiotemporal patterns of monthly 8-hour maximum ozone (8-hr max O3) concentrations in the Paso del Norte region were analyzed, and their associations with fires were examined for the 2001–2010 period. Hourly O3 measurements were retrieved from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality System, while the times and locations of fires were acquired from the MODIS fire detection module. The absolute 8-hr max O3 concentrations were comparable in urban, rural and background sites. Time series analysis of deseasonalized monthly 8-hr max O3 levels showed statistically significant declining trends for most of the sites located in populated areas, and high correlation coefficients among these. Conversely, a 0.12 ppbv/yr increase of 8-hr max O3 concentration was computed for Chiricahua, a background site located in a Class I protected area. Strong relationships between the monthly 8-hr max O3 concentrations and categorical variables representing the number of fire detections for each month in six buffer zones were computed. Fire incidents near the sites (within 400 km) in central Arizona, central Texas and western Mexico triggered a decrease in the 8-hr max O3 concentration by 1 to 12 ppbv in urban and rural sites, and an increase of 3 ppbv in Chiricahua. Conversely, fire incidents in southeast US, Cuba and central Mexico contributed from 5 up to 19 ppbv. These findings indicated that regional fire incidents may trigger high O3 episodes, which may exceed air quality standards.

Keywords

Air pollution Ozone Biomass burning Climate change Atmospheric chemistry


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