Published works

Published works

The Unquantified Risk of Post-Fire Metal Concentration in Soil: a Review

TitleThe Unquantified Risk of Post-Fire Metal Concentration in Soil: a Review
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAbraham, J, Dowling, K, Florentine, S
JournalWater, Air, & Soil Pollution
Date Published04/2017
KeywordsClimate change, environment, fire., forest, soil

Forest fire is a natural disturbance that occurs in many terrestrial ecosystems specifically in the semi-arid environments and is considered to be an important cause of environmental change. Though many causes of fire are identified, including lightning, volcanic eruption, power line sparks, etc., human involvement is the most significant factor. Fire events are able to alter the physical, chemical and biogeochemical properties of the soil and surface materials and are able to release major and trace metals into the environment. This may be more significant in mining-affected and industrial landscapes, where elevated concentrations of metals present in the soil. After the fire event, metals become more mobile due to the increase in soil surface exposure and the mobility associated with ash dispersal. This mobility may increase the bioavailability of the metals, which may generate water quality issues and may contribute to human and environmental health concerns. Even though, the influences of fire on many soil properties are well established, the behaviour of metals with respect to fire is not well investigated. However, a few studies report that major and trace metals include Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn and As are mobilized after fire with increased concentrations in soil and water resources and this might pose a risk to human health and ecosystems. Climate change may increase the intensity, frequency and areal extend of fire events and hence increase the metal concentrations and their potential health impacts. This paper reviews post-fire (wild fire) mobility of metals in soil common in contaminated forest ecosystems. The human and ecological health risks of these metals are also considered.

Refereed DesignationRefereed

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