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Re: New toxins found in pine tree fires

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avatar New toxins found in pine tree fires
May 07, 2009 01:20PM
Full story at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30503774/
New toxins found in pine tree fires
Research could lead to changes on how blazes are dealt with
By Michael Reilly
Thurs., April 30, 2009
Scientists have discovered a new class of chemicals emitted from burning pine trees. From a family of compounds known for their ability to alter human DNA, the findings could change the way we look at the impact of forest fires on public health.
Now Alexander Liskin and a team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington have discovered close to 100 different alkaloids in microscopic smoke particles lofting up from laboratory-simulated forest fires.

The team burned five different types of pine needles and trees common throughout western North America. Between 10 percent and 30 percent of the smoke -- which can contain many gases and particles other than alkaloids -- was made up of tiny particles of nitrogen-containing organic compounds, or NOCs, a large group of chemicals to which alkaloids belong. Most of the NOCs were alkaloids, meaning that forest fires have the potential to release large quantities of the toxins into the atmosphere.

"This is a first study," Julia Laskin, a co-author on the study, which is scheduled to appear in the June 1 edition of the journal Environmental Science and Technology "We can't really jump in and start working on regulations until more is done."

However, she said the results suggest more alkaloids are produced in cooler, smoldering fires. These are typical of controlled burns that forestry officials often set to prevent much hotter, raging wildfires. If further work bears out this conclusion, it may be possible to alter controlled burns in a way that minimizes alkaloid production.

Aerosol pollution is unquestionably deadly -- in the United States alone it kills approximately 50,000 people each year. But it is also a mystery.
"We know that smaller particles seem to be more toxic, but that's about it," Cort Anastasios of the University of California, Davis said. "We don't know what components or types of particles cause the most problems."
© 2009 Discovery Channel

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: New toxins found in pine tree fires
May 07, 2009 01:49PM
I think it could be argued that some people would benefit from this.

(altering their DNA if there is any ambiguity in my statement)

Goat Stop
avatar Re: New toxins found in pine tree fires
May 07, 2009 02:23PM
No wonder those Nathan's cheese dogs taste so good smiling smiley
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