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Wildfires: Identification of a new suite of aromatic polycarboxylic acids in ash and surface water

January 19, 2021

Ash and surface water samples collected after wildfires in four different geographical locations (California, Colorado, Kansas and Alberta) were analyzed. The ash samples were leached with deionized water, and leachates were concentrated by solid phase extraction and analyzed by liquid chromatography/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. In addition, three surface water samples and a lysimeter water sample were collected from watersheds recently affected by fire in California and Colorado, and analyzed in similar fashion. A suite of benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCAs), with two and three carboxyl groups and their corresponding isomers were identified for the first time in both ash leachates and water samples. Also found was a pyridine carboxylic acid (PCA), 3,5-pyridine dicarboxylic acid. Furthermore, putative identifications were made for other carboxylated aromatic acids: quinolinic, naphthalenic, and benzofuranoic acid carboxylates. The wildfire ashes, a controlled wood ash, and post-fire surface water samples suggest that burned woody material, along with surface plant-material and heated o-horizon soil organic matter, contribute to both BPCAs and PCAs in runoff. This study is the first of its kind to identify this suite of aromatic acids in wildfire ash and surface water samples. These data make an important contribution to the nature of dissolved organic matter from wildfire and are useful to better understand the impact of wildfire on water quality and drinking water sources.

Publication Year 2021
Title Wildfires: Identification of a new suite of aromatic polycarboxylic acids in ash and surface water
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144661
Authors Imma Ferrer, E. Michael Thurman, Jerry A. Zweigenbaum, Sheila F. Murphy, Jackson P. Webster, Fernando L. Rosario-Ortiz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70217659
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Earth System Processes Division