Near-Field Variability of Residential Woodsmoke Concentrations
In many regions, wood combustion is a significant source of wintertime aerosols. However, since wood combustion sources are interspersed within neighborhoods, near-field concentration variability has the potential to cause large variations in the exposure levels between residents over a relatively small area. This field study compared filter samples and aethalometer measurements of black carbon concentration within a 1 km2 study region with no significant aerosol sources except wood combustion. Sampling occurred on 15 nights over two winter seasons in a small California coastal town. Even over the small distances in the study area, large spatial and temporal variations were observed. Measured black carbon concentrations varied by as much as a factor of 10 over a 12-hour night-time period. The spatial variability was non-random, with the highest location in the study area experiencing 4 times the average concentration within the neighborhood, when averaged over all sample periods. The results of this study indicate that within neighborhoods with residential wood combustion sources using an average concentration for a region to predict exposure may significantly undervalue the exposure of some residents and overvalue the exposure for others.