Caustic ash left behind by wildfires

December 6, 2007

U.S. geologists say ash and debris from California wildfires is full of arsenic, lead and other caustic materials that pose a health and safety risk.

The U.S. Geological Survey scientists warn the toxic metals pollute streams and threaten wildlife, the Los Angeles Times said Wednesday.

Tests of some ash from recent wildfires found it was more caustic than ammonia and nearly as caustic as lye, while metals such as arsenic found in the ash would violate federal standards for cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

The scientists are calling for concentrated efforts to clear the ash and before winter rains arrive, the newspaper said. The geologists tested 28 samples from residential areas burned by the Grass Valley fire near Los Angeles and the Harris fire near the Mexico border.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

October 1, 2015

Berkeley geologists have uncovered compelling evidence that an asteroid impact on Earth 66 million years ago accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, and that together these planet-wide ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.