Latest On The Conservation Gateway

A well-managed and operational Conservation Gateway is in our future! Marketing, Conservation, and Science have partnered on a plan to rebuild the Gateway into the organization’s enterprise content management system (AEM), with a planned launch of a minimal viable product for January of 2024. If you’re interested in learning more about the project, reach out to for more info!

Poster: Gas-Phase Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure during Prescribed Fire (Navarro et al., 2015)

link DOWNLOAD FILE: poster

Lead author Kathleen Navarro took part in the fall 2014 Klamath River TREX, where she collected the data for this work. The poster was awarded “Best of Session” at the student poster session of the 2015 American Industrial Hygiene Association annual conference​.

Poster Abstract 

Gas-Phase Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure during Prescribed Fire

K. Navarro, J. Balmes, and S.K. Hammond, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Background: Wildland firefighters work in high smoke exposure conditions with little to no respiratory protection. Wood smoke contains many hazardous air pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs have been associated with increased cancer risk and immune dysfunction. Past studies have demonstrated that open-air burning of wood generates more gas-phase PAHs such as naphthalene (NAP), phenanthrene (PHE), and fluorene than particulate-phase PAHs.

Objective: To assess levels of gas phase PAHs during prescribed burns in mixed conifer forests and chaparral near Orleans, CA.

Methods: Gas-phase PAHs were measured for five days in duplicate on one individual while patrolling the fire perimeter (holding), igniting the prescribed fire (firing), and extinguishing burning material post-fire (mop-up) during prescribed burns. Personal PAH air samples (N=10) were collected using actively sampled XAD sorbent tubes sampled at 0.2 L/min for 5 to 12 hours. Sorbent tubes were attached to the front shoulder strap of a backpack that was worn during each prescribed fire. Samples were analyzed for NAP, PHE, acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, anthracene, fluoranthene, fluorene, pyrene, and retene. Sample media was extracted with dichloromethane and analyzed on a gas chromatograph with a mass selective detector.

Results: Of the 9 PAHs that were measured, mean concentrations of NAP and PHE were consistently above detection limits. NAP and PHE were highest while firing and holding on the same day (NAP= 2280 μg/m3; PHE = 160 μg/m3). Mean concentrations of NAP and PHE were higher during firing (NAP=1480 μg/m3; PHE=110 μg/m3) compared to holding (NAP=760 μg/m3; PHE = 42 μg/m3) and lowest during mop-up (NAP=580 μg/m3; PHE=60 μg/m3).

Conclusion: The levels of NAP and PHE measured in this study were significantly higher than those measured in previous studies of wildland firefighters. It is important to characterize exposures from wildland fires to better understand any potential long-term health effects.