T&D News, Number 2, 2004 - Internet Web Site: 'http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d' Send an e-mail request for username and password to: 't-d@fs.fed.us'

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Campfire Toxins

[photo] Pine needles burning on a metal tray placed on a bed of rocks surrounded by cinder block walls.Building a campfire is part of the outdoor experience. Campfires not only provide light and warmth, they also appear to offer an easy means to dispose of discarded items. Rather than packing out cardboard boxes, sandwich bags, and baby diapers, many campers add these items to their campfires, not realizing that harmful toxins may be released into the air or left in the ashes when the campfire has burned down.

The tech tip, What's Burning in Your Campfire? Garbage In, Toxics Out (0423–2327–MTDC), provides information from an informal study by the Missoula Technology and Development Center (MTDC) of gas emissions and ash content from 27 products that are commonly burned in campfires.

The Rocky Mountain Research Station fire chemistry unit in Missoula, MT, used a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer to analyze smoke samples. The study found campfires that just burn wood release a significant amount of air pollutants. When garbage is added to a campfire, the air pollutants increase.

Ash samples also were collected. The University of Montana geology department analyzed the ash samples. Ash from a campfire that burns wood alone is essentially nontoxic, but when garbage is added to the fire, increased levels of toxic materials are left in the ash.

For more information on campfire toxins, contact Mary Ann Davies, project leader (phone: 406–329–3981; e-mail: mdavies@fs.fed.us). USDA Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management employees can view this tech tip on the USDA Forest Service's internal computer network at: http://fsweb.mtdc.wo.fs.fed.us/php/library_card.php?p_num=0423%202327. Others can view the tech tip over the Internet (username: t-d, password: t-d) http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/php/library_card.php?p_num=0423%202327.

To order the tech tip, contact Cailen Hegman, MTDC publications (phone: 406–329–3978; e-mail; cahegman@fs.fed.us).

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Disclaimer: The Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has developed this information for the guidance of its employees, its contractors, and its cooperating Federal and State agencies, and is not responsible for the interpretation or use of this information by anyone except its own employees. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this document is for the information and convenience of the reader, and does not constitute an endorsement by the Department of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202–720–2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call 202–720–5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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