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  1. Wildfires are increasing in size, frequency, and intensity, releasing increased amounts of contaminants, including magnetic particles, into the surrounding environment. The aim of this paper is to develop a sensing method for the detection and quantification of magnetic particles (MPs) in fire ash and fire runoff using a compact Time-Domain Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (TD-NMR) system. The system is made up of custom NMR electronics with a compact and rugged permanent magnet array designed to enable future deployment as an in situ sensor. A signal-to-noise ratio of 25 dB was measured for a single scan, and sufficient data can be acquired in one minute. A linear relationship with an R 2 value of 0.9699 was established between transverse relaxation rates and MP concentrations in ash samples. This was validated by testing known dilutions of pure magnetite particles and showing that they fit within the same linear curve. The developed approach was then applied to detect MPs in surface water, where changes in the relaxation rates as high as 400% were observed before and after a wildfire event. MPs were removed from the surface water using a magnetic particle separator to confirm that observed changes were solely due to the presence of MPs. The compact NMR system can be used as a simple and rapid approach to track and quantify the concentrations of magnetic particles released from fire ashes and also from other sources such as discharges from coal ash and other combustion ashes. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 10, 2024
  2. The increase in fires at the wildland–urban interface has raised concerns about the potential environmental impact of ash remaining after burning. Here, we examined the concentrations and speciation of iron-bearing nanoparticles in wildland–urban interface ash. Total iron concentrations in ash varied between 4 and 66 mg g −1 . Synchrotron X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy of bulk ash samples was used to quantify the relative abundance of major Fe phases, which were corroborated by transmission electron microscopy measurements. Maghemite (γ-(Fe 3+ ) 2 O 3 ) and magnetite (γ-Fe 2+ (Fe 3+ ) 2 O 4 ) were detected in most ashes and accounted for 0–90 and 0–81% of the spectral weight, respectively. Ferrihydrite (amorphous Fe( iii )–hydroxide, (Fe 3+ ) 5 HO 8 ·4H 2 O), goethite (α-Fe 3+ OOH), and hematite (α-Fe 3+ 2 O 3 ) were identified less frequently in ashes than maghemite and magnetite and accounted for 0–65, 0–54, and 0–50% of spectral weight, respectively. Other iron phases identified in ashes include wüstite (Fe 2+ O), zerovalent iron, FeS, FeCl 2 , FeCl 3 , FeSO 4 , Fe 2 (SO 4 ) 3 , and Fe(NO 3 ) 3 . Our findings demonstrate the impact of fires at the wildland–urban interface on iron speciation; that is, fires can convert iron oxides ( e.g. , maghemite, hematite, and goethite) to reduced iron phases such as magnetite, wüstite, and zerovalent iron. Magnetite concentrations ( e.g. , up to 25 mg g −1 ) decreased from black to gray to white ashes. Based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses, most of the magnetite nanoparticles were less than 500 nm in size, although larger particles were identified. Magnetite nanoparticles have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases as well as climate change. This study provides important information for understanding the potential environmental impacts of fires at the wildland–urban interface, which are currently poorly understood. 
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