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Last Edited: 5/27/2011

Agricultural Burning: Air Monitoring and Exposure Reduction in Imperial County


Burning of agricultural fields to remove crop stubble occurs throughout agricultural areas of the U.S./Mexico border region. Particulate matter (PM), primarily carbonaceous PM with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (µm) (PM2.5), and thousands of chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), are emitted during agricultural burning. Investigators from the Environmental Health Investigations Branch obtained funding from the U.S. Mexico Border Environmental Economic Commission (BECC). The first component was to conduct air monitoring in Imperial County, California, targeting schools and other locations of public access from January through March 2009, a period when burn acreage in the County averaged 218 acres/day (range=0-1400).
The second component of the project was to promote behavioral recommendations to reduce exposures. Fact sheets for three separate audiences--the general public, school representatives, and farmers--were developed. Advice includes staying away from ground-level smoke plumes. For those who must stay outside and near a burning field, respirators are recommended. For farmers, these recommendations, plus a good-neighbor policy of alerting anyone within a mile and a half of the burning field, are also recommended. Links to these fact sheets are:
 In English:
En Español:
A final report to BECC on both the air monitoring and health education components was finalized on May 22, 2011:

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