Burning Issues

Also see: Tables:Wood smoke Weights. (as pdf, size13KB) (be sure to see references for tables.)

Chemicals listed here are only the tip of the iceberg - combustion variables lead to hundreds if not thousands of chemical combinations. Some are sweet smelling vanilla and others are known to be the most toxic chemicals on earth. Wood also carries mold spores, some are able to be cultured from wood ashe. (molds are listed at the bottom of the Table from above)

Cyanide contaminates water from biomass burning: Chemosphere, 2003.

Wood Burning Creates Dioxin, Radioactive Particles and Releases Stored Lead

Lead: produced from burning 2.2 pounds of wood = 0.1mg to 3 mg.

"Burning 1 kilogram of wood produced as much as 160 micrograms of total dioxins. This result was obtained when various specimens of wood were burned in different stoves. Soot was collected and analyzed by well-designed and documented procedures. Tetrachlorinated, hexachlorinated, heptachlorinated, octachlorinated dioxins were present. The isomers of the dioxins were separated and quantitated. The highly chlorinated dioxins were the major components. In the soot from a series of experiments, their total content ranged from 10 to 167 mg/kg of fuel. The total yields of tetrachlorinated dioxins (TCDDs) ranged from 0.1 to 7.8 mg/kg of fuel."
[Science, Vol. 266 Oct. 21, 1994,T.J. Nestrick and L.L. Lamparski, Anal. Chem. 54, 2292 (1982)].

"With the exception of some very low California readings, all measurements of wood ash with fallout-cesium exceeded - some by 100 times or more - the levels of radioactive cesium that may be released from nuclear plants (about 100 picocuries per kilogram of sludge). Wood ash-cesium levels were especially high in the Northeast" [Science News, 1991]

This information was published in 1993 EPA Report, A Summary of the Emissions Characterization and Noncancer Respiratory Effects of Wood Smoke, EPA-453/R-93-036 It can be ordered from the EPA at (919)-541-5344.

Chemical Composition of Wood Smoke

Species                              g/kg wood         

Carbon Monoxide                      80-370            

Methane                              14-25             

VOCs (C2-C7)                         7-27              

Aldehydes                            0.6-5.4           

   Formaldehyde                      0.1-0.7           

   Acrolein                          0.02-0.1          

   Propionaldehyde                   0.1-0.3           

   Butryaldehyde                     0.01-1.7          

   Acetaldehyde                      0.03-0.6          

   Furfural                          0.2-1.6 1.6       

Substituted Furans                   0.15-1.7          

Benzene                              0.6-4.0           

Alkyl Benzenes                       1-6               

    Toluene                          0.15-1.0          

Acetic Acid                          1.8-2.4           

Formic Acid                          0.06-0.08         

Nitrogen Oxides (NO,NO2)             0.2-0.9           

Sulfur Dioxide                       0.16-0.24         

Methyl chloride                      0.01-0.04         

Napthalene                           0.24-1.6          

Substituted Napthalenes              0.3-2.1           

Oxygenated Monoaromatics             1 - 7             

     Guaiacol (and denvatives)       0.4-1.6           

     Phenol (and denvatives)         0.2-0.8           

     Syringol (and derivatives)      0.7-2.7           

     Catechol (and denvatives)       0.2-0.8           

Total Particle Mass                  7-30              

Particulate Organic Carbon           2-20              

Oxygenated PAHs                      0.15-1            

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)

    Fluorene                         4x10-5 - 1.7x10-2 

    Phenanthrene                     2x10-5 - 3.4x10-2 

    Anthracene                       5x10-5 - 2.1x10-5

    Methylanthracenes                7xl0-5 -  8x10-5      

    Fluoranthene                   7xl0-4- 4.2xl0-2

    Pyrene                         8x10-4 - 3.1x10-2

    Benzo(a)anthracene             4x10-4 - 2x10-3 

    Chrysene                       5x104- 1x10-2   

    Benzofluoranthenes             6x10-4- 5x10-3  

    Benzo(e)pyrene                 2x104 - 4x10-3  

    Benzo(a)pyrene                3x104- 5x10-3   

    Perylene                      5x10-5 - 3x10-3 

    Ideno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene          2xl0-4- 1.3x10-2

    Benz(ghi)perylene              3x10-5- 1.lx10-2

    Coronene                       8x10-4- 3x10-3  

    Dibenzo(a,h)pyrene             3x104- lx10-3   

    Retene                         7x10-3 - 3x10-2 

    Dibenz(a,h)anthracene          2x10-5 - 2xl0-3 

Trace Elements                     

Na                                 3x10-3 - 1.8xl0-2

Mg                                 2x10-4 - 3x10-3 

Al                                 1x10-4 - 2.4x10-2

Si                                 3x10-4 - 3.1x10-2

S                                  1x10-3 - 2.9x10-2

Cl                                 7x10-4 - 2.1xl0-2

K                                  3x10-3 - 8.6x10-2

Ca                                 9xl0-4 - 1.8x10-2

Ti                                 4x10-5 - 3x10-3 

V                                  2xl0-5 - 4x10-3 

Cr                                 2x10-5 - 3x10-3   

Mn                                 7xl0-5 - 4x10-3   

Fe                                 3x10-4 - 5x10-3  

Ni                                 lxl0-6 - lx10-3 

Cu                                 2x10-4 - 9x10-4  

Zn                                 7xl0-4 - 8x10-3 

Br                                 7x10-5 - 9x10-4 

Pb                                 lx10-4 - 3x10-3


Particulate Elemental              0.3 - 5


Normal alkanes (C24-C30)           1x10-3 - 6x10-3 

Cyclic di-and triterpenoids    

     Dehydroabietic acid           0.01 - 0.05     

     Isopimaric acid               0.02 - 0.10     

     Lupenone                      2x10-3 - 8x10-3 

     Friedelin                     4x10-6 - 2x10-5 

Chlorinated dioxins                1xl0-5 - 4x10-5 

Particulate Acidity     .          7x10-3 - 7x10-2 

1 Some species are grouped into general classes as indicated by italics.
2 To estimate the weight percentage in the exhaust, divide the g/kg value by 80. This assumes that there are 7.3 kg combustion air per kg of wood. Major species not listed here include carbon dioxide and water vapor (about 12 and 7 weight percent respectively under the assumed conditions.
3 At ambient conditions; V = vapor, P = particulate, and VIP = vapor and/or particulate (i.e., semi-volatile).
4 DeAngelis (1980)
5 OMNI (1988)
6 Lipari (1984), Values for fireplaces.
7 Edye et al (1991). smoldering conditions; other substituted furans include 2-furanmethanol, 2 acetylfuran, 5 methyl-2furaldehyde, and benzofuran.
8 Value estimated for pine from Edye et al (1991) from reported yield relative to guaiacol, from guaiacol values of Hawthorne (1989) and assuming particulate organic carbon is 50% of total particle mass.
9 Steiber et al (1992), values computed assuming a range of 3-20 g of total extractable, speciated mass per kg wood.
10 Khalil (1983)
11 Hawthorne (1989), values for syringol for hardwood fuel; see also Hawthorne (1988).
12 Core (1989), DeAngelis (1980), Kalman and Larson (1987).
13 From one or more of the following studies: Cooke (1981), Truesdale (1984), Alfheirn et al (1984), Zeedijk (1986), Core (1989), Kalman and Larson (1987); assuming a range of 7 to 30 grams of particulate mass per kg wood when values were reported in grams per gram of particulate mass. Similar assumptions apply to references 14,15 and references 17-19.
14 Core (1989), Kalman and Larson (1987)
15 Watson (1979), Core (1989), Kalman and Larson (1987)
16 Rau (1989), Core (1989)
17 Core (1989)
18 Standley and Simoneit (1990); Dehydroabietic acid values for pine smoke, lupenone and isopimaric acid values for alder smoke and friedlin values for oaf: soot.
19 Nestrick and Lamparski (1982), from particulate condensed on flue pipes; includes TCDDs, HCDDs, H7CDDs and OCDDS.
20 Burnet et al (1986); one gram of acid = one equivalent of acid needed to reach a pH of 5.6 in extract solution.

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