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    Author(s): Tina Bell; Mark Adams
    Date: 2009
    Source: In: Bytnerowicz, Andrzej; Arbaugh, Michael; Andersen, Christian; Riebau, Allen. 2009. Wildland Fires and Air Pollution. Developments in Environmental Science 8. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. pp. 289-316
    Publication Series: Book
    PDF: View PDF  (215.72 KB)

    Description

    Much of Australia is seasonally hot and dry, and fuel beds can become very flammable. Biomass burning ranges from annual savanna fires in the north to sporadic but extensive forest fires in the south. In addition, prescribed burning (the controlled application of fire) is being used more frequently as a means of reducing fuel loads, for maintenance of plant and animal biodiversity and in forestry practices. Despite this and in comparison to the Northern Hemisphere, there are few Australian studies of the production or composition of smoke from biomass burning. There is also relatively minimal Australian literature detailing the effect of wildfire smoke on human health and flora and fauna. Most of the literature dealing with smoke and human health issues in Australia outline epidemiological studies that document the incidence of hospital visits and admissions during wildfire events. The causal link between smoke and respiratory illness is yet to be established. The bulk of the publications dealing with ecological effects of smoke are concerned with germination of seed, with little information available on the direct effects of components of smoke on the physiology and biochemistry of plants, animals, invertebrates, or microorganisms. We will outline the knowledge of emissions and effects of smoke from prescribed and wildland fire in Australia on human health and the environment and will indicate potential areas for future research. In addition, a large proportion of the vegetation of Australia is composed of forests dominated by native species of Eucalyptus and Acacia, while large expanses of plantations are dominated by single species of Eucalyptus, and the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by such vegetation is substantial. Thus, we will also outline an emerging research area in which the links among the production of VOCs by native Australian species, environmental conditions, and VOCs found in smoke produced from burning native vegetation are explored.

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    Citation

    Bell, Tina; Adams, Mark. 2009. Smoke from wildfires and prescribed burning in Australia: effects on human health and ecosystems. In: Bytnerowicz, Andrzej; Arbaugh, Michael; Andersen, Christian; Riebau, Allen 2009. Wildland Fires and Air Pollution. Developments in Environmental Science 8. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. pp. 289-316

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