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Emission factors from different burning stages of agriculture wastes in Mexico


Open-air burning of agricultural wastes from crops like corn, rice, sorghum, sugar cane, and wheat is common practice in Mexico, which in spite limiting regulations, is the method to eliminate such wastes, to clear the land for further harvesting, to control grasses, weeds, insects, and pests, and to facilitate nutrient absorption. However, this practice generates air pollution and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Burning of straws derived from the said crops was emulated in a controlled combustion chamber, hence determining emission factors for particles, black carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitric oxide throughout the process, which comprised three apparent stages: pre-ignition, flaming, and smoldering. In all cases, maximum particle concentrations were observed during the flaming stage, although the maximum final contributions to the particle emission factors corresponded to the smoldering stage. The comparison between particle size distributions (from laser spectrometer) and black carbon (from an aethalometer) confirmed that finest particles were emitted mainly during the flaming stage. Carbon dioxide emissions were also highest during the flaming stage whereas those of carbon monoxide were highest during the smoldering stage. Comparing the emission factors for each straw type with their chemical analyses (elemental, proximate, and biochemical), some correlations were found between lignin content and particle emissions and either particle emissions or duration of the pre-ignition stage. High ash or lignin containing-straw slowed down the pre-ignition and flaming stages, thus favoring CO oxidation to CO2.

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The authors would like to thank the following institutions for their financial support: CONICYT (Chile) projects: FONDEF D08-I-1147, FONDEF D09-I-1070, FONDEF IDEA No ID15I10580 and FONDECYT No 1161793, grant for PhD thesis of Fabián Guerrero, 2014-78141103, “Programa Atracción de Capital Humano Avanzado Extranjero MEC”-Project No 80140096 for supporting the visitor stage of Magín Lapuerta, FONDECYT-Postdoctorado No 3150685-PAI for supporting postdoctoral stage of Karen Yáñez; CONACYT (Mexico) Project No 181231–Graduate studentship for supporting PhD thesis of Naxieli Santiago. Dr. Mario Romero is acknowledged for his suggestions in the final revision of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Magin Lapuerta.

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Responsible editor: Constantini Samara

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Santiago-De la Rosa, N., Mugica-Álvarez, V., Cereceda-Balic, F. et al. Emission factors from different burning stages of agriculture wastes in Mexico. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 24297–24310 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0049-4

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  • Emission factors
  • Biomass burning
  • Agricultural wastes
  • Particle emissions
  • Combustion
  • Smoldering