7 Dec 2007, 2:54pm
Latest Fire News
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USGS Study Finds Ash from Southern California Fires May Pose Problems to Health and the Environment

Ash from last month’s southern California fires may pose problems to health and the environment, according to preliminary results from a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study released to the Multi-Agency State and Federal Task Force.

Samples collected from two residential areas burned by the Grass Valley and Harris wildfires indicate that the ash contains caustic alkali materials and can contain somewhat elevated levels of metals such as arsenic, lead, zinc and copper. Ash from burned wildlands can also contain caustic alkali materials, though at lower levels than the residential ash.

“These findings are consistent with the scientific knowledge about wildfire ash that has led counties in California to issue advisories regarding appropriate precautionary measures to avoid health problems associated with exposure to the ash,” said Dr. Geoffrey Plumlee, a USGS lead author of the study. .. [more]

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