Evaluation of Prescribed Burn Impacts on Air Quality and Visibility in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DAS Chen, Lung Wen A. 06/13/2011 - 03/31/2013 USDA - Forest Service

Project Description

Prescribed burning that is widely used for fuel reduction in the Tahoe basin potentially impact air and water quality, visibility, and human exposure of air toxics. A thorough evaluation of this impact has not been achieved due to lack of field measurements for pile/under- burn emissions and spatiotemporal distribution of smoke plumes. This project will employ a unique combination of source and ambient monitoring systems and satellite remote sensing data to address the knowledge gap. Source measurements will yield emission factors of criteria pollutants including particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) precursors, as well as particle size distribution, chemical composition, and light extinction coefficient. Ambient PM10/PM2.5 measurements will be made at five sites representative of community exposure in the basin. The prescribed burning impact on air quality/visibility will be linked to burn and meteorological parameters leading to recommendations for future burning strategies (e.g., burn window, season, location [in- and out- side the basin], and technique). The project will also establish a procedure to evaluate air quality through satellite data on a routine, cost effective basis.