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News 20.10.2021

Biomass burning has a large impact on air quality in Temuco City, Chile

Finnish Meteorological Institute participated in a research that studied the impact of biomass burning to air quality in Chile.
Photo: Adobe Stock

This article presents a detailed chemical characterization of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Temuco city, Chile, and demonstrates the impact of biomass burning on the urban air quality. The measurements were performed at two sites in Greater Temuco, the capital city of the Araucanía Region, Chile, in spring and winter season.

In winter, very high PM2.5 concentrations (up to 700 µg m⁻³) were repeatedly observed at both stations, and the biomass burning tracers, levoglucosan, potassium and chloride, showed elevated concentrations with a clear increase in the evening. That indicated that in the wintertime local biomass burning was the main source of air pollutants in the region. Moreover, most of the large PM2.5 concentrations in winter correlated with high surface pressure, low temperature and low wind speed, that prevents the dilution of air pollutants. Chemical composition of particles was dominated by organics (average 87 %) followed by inorganic ions (10–30 %) and a minor contribution of black carbon (<5 %).

In spring, PM2.5 concentrations were significantly smaller than in winter (campaign-averages 6.4 and 8.6 µg m⁻³) with 20–50 times smaller concentrations of levoglucosan. Also in spring the particles were dominated by organics but the average contributions of inorganic ions and black carbon were larger in spring than in winter.

More information:

Group Leader Hilkka Timonen, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. 050 3802864,

Senior researcher Sanna Saarikoski, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. 050 5906091,

Reyes, F., Ahumada, S., Rojas, F., Oyola, P., Vásquez, Y., Aguilera, C., Henriquez, A., Gramsch, E., Kang, C.M., Saarikoski, S., Teinilä, K., Aurela, M., Timonen, H. (2021). Impact of Biomass Burning on Air Quality in Temuco City, Chile. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 210110.

Scientific article available here

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