In recent years, the Brazilian government has been applying several restrictions with regard to preventing environmental pollution. Although Brazilian legislation is becoming stricter as to the pre-harvest burning of sugarcane, this practice is frequently used in order to assist manual harvesting. In the northeast region of Brazil, sugarcane is an important crop, which accounts for about 15% of the national production in a total area of 1,060,660 ha, the average production being 51,119 kg per hectare. The pre-harvest burning of sugarcane generates smoke, which has a high concentration of atmospheric pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), particulate matter (P.M. 2.5 and 10), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOX). This article estimates the volume of CO, P.M. 2.5 and NOX generated and how they are dispersed in the atmosphere when this arises from the burning of sugarcane biomass in rural areas of Northeast Brazil, and does so by using AERMOD VIEW® simulation software. Using the characteristics of the emissions and environmental (meteorological and topographical) data, quality air profiles based on pollutant dispersion were obtained. Three studies were taken into account in order to determine the relationship between pollutant dispersion and some parameters of the burning process, such as those for the spatial distribution of resources, the duration of pre-harvest burning and the influence of undertaking burning in different months. As to spatial distribution, to divide an area into small lots contributes to decreasing the maximum concentration of pollutants by 53% compared to burning a single area of equivalent size. The study of the burning duration indicated that doing so gradually (using a lengthier procedure) could decrease the maximum concentration of the pollutants by an inverse relation. The harvesting period in this region is between November and April. The pollutants dispersion process was greatest in February. April presented the worst dispersion conditions, and was associated with the highest pollutant concentrations.
Atmospheric Environment – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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