Combined approaches to determine the impact of wood fire on PCDD/F and PCB contamination of the environment : a case study

Abstract : Fires might be the source of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins, furans (PCDD/Fs) and/or polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) in the environment. In the perspective of defining legal responsibilities a thorough characterization of the impact of such an event should be carried out. However, such characterization is not easy as the environment integrates both local and diffuse sources of such molecules. Thus, a combined approach, which includes gathering field surveys, modeling and laboratory experiments, should be conducted. The objective of this work is to illustrate different approaches to give sufficient insight to determine the actual impact of wood fire on the environment. The work was carried out at the vicinity of a burnt down parcel. The fired material was a mixture of wood and PCB-contaminated soils as the site was a former pyralene-disposal site. Modeling, soil and lichen sampling and experimental combustion were carried out to delineate the contamination for each chemical and to define the area within the fire that was responsible for the environmental contamination. Concentrations of PCDD/F and PCBs were very high on the burnt plot. The combined approach determined that the furans were the predominant compounds in the smoke emitted by the fire. Based on this tracer, it was possible to demonstrate that in terms of environmental contamination of PCDD/F, the impact of the fire was restricted to a 2 km radius from the burnt down plot. For PCBs, no specific tracer was identified. In this case, the delineation of the impact could only be empirical, based on the total concentration of the chemicals.
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Sébastien Denys, Dominique Gombert, Karine Tack. Combined approaches to determine the impact of wood fire on PCDD/F and PCB contamination of the environment : a case study. Chemosphere, Elsevier, 2012, 88 (7), pp.806-812. ⟨10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.03.086⟩. ⟨ineris-00963380⟩

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