Impact of intense field burning episode on aerosol mass loading and its possible health implications in rural area of eastern central Indiaby Jayant Nirmalkar, Manas K. Deb

Air Qual Atmos Health


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Impact of intense field burning episode on aerosol mass loading and its possible health implications in rural area of eastern central India

Jayant Nirmalkar & Manas K. Deb

Received: 9 December 2014 /Accepted: 12 February 2015 # Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Abstract Size-segregated aerosol samples were collected from the rural area of eastern central India throughout the intermittent rice straw burning campaign during May and

June in 2013. We found higher concentrations of particulate matters (PMs) during field burning events. The average concentrations of PM10 (RSPM, Dp≤10 μm), PM2.5–10 (coarse, 2.5 μm<Dp<10 μm), PM2.5 (fine, Dp≤2.5 μm), and PM1 (submicron, Dp≤1 μm) were found to be 329± 25.6, 108±5.02, 221±25.1, and 90.4±18.2 μg/m3, respectively. The concentrations of PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 during burning period were approximately two times higher than those of pre-burning and post-burning periods. The percentage contribution of fine particles to the total PM10 during burning period was found to be approximately 70 % whereas it was limited to approximately 51 and 50 % for pre-burning and post-burning periods, respectively. Significant correlation was found between PM10,

PM2.5–10, PM2.5, and PM1 during burning period due to continued emission of aerosol from rice straw burning.

Surprisingly, we found good correlations between coarse, fine, and submicron particles during burning period that are mainly due to accumulation of small particles and/or their adsorption from gas phase to larger particles. The contribution of fine aerosols is higher as compared to coarse aerosols to the total PM10 mass. PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations during the study period were 100 % exceeded from the prescribed national air quality standard of

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India. According to the mass size distribution, the major peak was present in fine size fraction during burning event whereas for pre- and postburning periods, it was present in coarse size fractions. During burning period, approximately 70 % of particulate matters were distributed in sizes less than 2.5 μm. The mass median aerodynamic diameter was shifted to a lower size range (1.91 μm) for total aerosol particle sizes during burning period as compared to pre- and post-burning periods due to high emission of fine particle. Deterioration of air quality was more prominent during burning period as compared to that during pre- and post-burning periods. The mass concentration of particles, which are able to get deposited in respirable airways and lungs, was found to be higher during burning period.

Keywords Rice straw burning . Size distribution .Mass median aerodynamic diameter . Air quality index . Spearman correlation


Biomass burning has substantial local and global impacts on both chemical and physical properties of atmosphere and radiative budget of the Earth (Chung et al. 2004; Chung and

Kim 2008; Engling et al. 2009; Samet and Chung 2010).

Particulate matters (PMs) disturb the climate through the backscattering and absorbing of incoming solar light (direct effect) in alteration in properties of cloud condensation nuclei (indirect effect) (Chung et al. 2004; Herner et al. 2006;

Atkinson et al. 2012). Considerable inhabitants all over the world also suffer every year from smokes derived from regional and separate natural land and farming fires (Oanh et al. 2001; Yang et al. 2006; Carrico et al. 2010). The smoke from biomass burning contains several gaseous and PMs that

J. Nirmalkar :M. K. Deb (*)

School of Studies in Chemistry, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University,

Raipur 492 010, Chhattisgarh, India e-mail:

Air Qual Atmos Health

DOI 10.1007/s11869-015-0330-y are recognized to be dangerous for the health (Chung et al. 2003; Kleeman et al. 2008; Lee et al. 2008). Aerosols are suspension of particles and liquid droplets into the air and have been found to be one associated with the human health and rural environmental problems (Carrico et al. 2010; Samet and Chung 2010; Pope et al. 2011). Atmospheric PMs derive from many burning processes or are formed via secondary process from their originator gases in the ambient air (Yang et al. 2006; Tsai et al. 2010; Nirmalkar et al. 2015). On regional and global basis, biomass burning event such as straw burning is a dominant source of PM (Levin et al. 2010; Wang et al. 2011; Nirmalkar et al. 2013, 2014). Field burning activities in the rural area is common and significantly affects the air quality. In eastern central India, more than 65% land is used for the agricultural activities (Giri et al. 2013). In India, at harvesting time, the in situ rice straw burning practice is common in order to release the nutrient for the next growing season. In addition, the potential source of particulate matter in this region has natural dust advection and sizable anthropogenic activities such as emission from traffic, industry, and coal, biomass and agricultural waste burning.

The burning of rice straw is an important contributor to PM emissions (Oanh et al. 2001; Yang et al. 2006), although the magnitude of such contributions remains unknown. There is a lack of information regarding the mass size distributions, as well as about the potential harms caused by toxic organic such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metallic components to human health and to the environment (Oanh et al. 2001; Deshmukh et al. 2012a, b; Engling et al. 2013).

The studies on size distribution of metals show that most of the toxic metals accumulate in the smallest particles (Wojas and Almquist 2007). This fraction predominantly deposits in the alveolar regions of lungs, where the adsorption efficiency for trace elements varies from 60 to 80 % (Pope and Dockery 2006). Understanding the size distribution of atmospheric PM is becoming a significant subject of research when examining the effects of air pollution. The total mass concentration plays an important role in exposure and risk assessment while the mass size distribution uncovers the atmospheric processes influential in air pollution (Oanh et al. 2001; Levin et al. 2010;