Impact of residential wood combustion on urban air quality

University dissertation from Stockholm : Institutionen för tillämpad miljövetenskap (ITM)

Abstract: Wood combustion is mainly used in cold regions as a primary or supplemental space heating source in residential areas. In several industrialized countries, there is a renewed interest in residential wood combustion (RWC) as an alternative to fossil fuel and nuclear power consumption. The main objective of this thesis was to investigate the impact of RWC on the air quality in urban areas. To this end, a field campaign was conducted in Northern Sweden during wintertime to characterize atmospheric aerosol particles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and to determine their source apportionment.A large day-to-day and hour-to-hour variability in aerosol concentrations was observed during the intensive field campaign. On average, total carbon contributed a substantial fraction of PM10 mass concentrations (46%) and aerosol particles were mostly in the fine fraction (PM1 accounted for 76% of PM10). Evening aerosol concentrations were significantly higher on weekends than on weekdays which could be associated to the use of wood burning for recreational purposes or higher space heat demand when inhabitants spend longer time at home. It has been shown that continuous aerosol particle number size distribution measurements successfully provided source apportionment of atmospheric aerosol with high temporal resolution. The first compound-specific radiocarbon analysis (CSRA) of atmospheric PAH demonstrated its potential to provide quantitative information on the RWC contribution to individual PAH. RWC accounted for a large fraction of particle number concentrations in the size range 25-606 nm (44-57%), PM10 (36-82%), PM1 (31-83%), light-absorbing carbon (40-76%) and individual PAH (71-87%) mass concentrations.These studies have demonstrated that the impact of RWC on air quality in an urban location can be very important and largely exceed the contribution of vehicle emissions during winter, particularly under very stable atmospheric conditions.