A recent JSTOR Daily article addresses issues related to air quality policies for prescribed fire and wildfire smoke.Continue Reading
The EPA AirNOW Fire and Smoke Map has been updated with a new interactive dashboard and additional features. For more information see the following press release from the EPA.
EPA, Forest Service Release Improved Tools to Equip the Public with Information and Resources on Wildfire Smoke
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2021) — As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to improve wildfire preparedness, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service have released updates to the popular AirNow Fire and Smoke Map to help protect communities across the country from the devastating impacts of wildfire smoke.
“Smoke from increasingly frequent, intense and widespread wildfires in the West is a significant public health threat, and EPA is committed to keeping people safe,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The updated Fire and Smoke Map harnesses the power of data and technology to help confront this challenge head on. The updated map provides additional tools to help communities near the front lines better understand their risks from wildfire smoke and the actions they can take to protect their health during wildfire events.”
EPA and the Forest Service launched the Fire and Smoke Map as a pilot in 2020 to provide the public information on fire locations, smoke plumes and air quality all in one place. The map quickly became a key wildfire smoke information source for the public, with more than 7.4 million views in the map’s first three months.
To give users the most localized air quality information possible, the Fire and Smoke Map pulls data from monitors that regularly report to AirNow, temporary monitors such as those the Forest Service and air agencies have deployed near fires, and crowd-sourced data from nearly 10,000 low-cost sensors that measure fine particle pollution, the major harmful pollutant in smoke. The map also provides easy access to smoke forecast outlooks, which the Forest Service provides when Air Resource Advisors have been deployed to wildland fires.
For 2021, the two agencies have made several improvements to the map based on feedback from state and local air agencies, Tribes, and members of the public. The updates include a “dashboard” that map users will see by clicking on a monitor or sensor. The dashboard gives users quick access to key information that can help them plan their activities: the current Air Quality Index (AQI) category at the monitor/sensor location; information showing whether air quality is getting better or worse; and information about actions to consider taking, based on the current AQI.
The updated Fire and Smoke Map also is more “mobile friendly” for people who visit the AirNow.gov website from a smartphone or tablet. The map will be available as part of the AirNow app in app stores in the coming weeks.
Visit the Fire and Smoke Map at https://fire.airnow.gov/
Commercially available, lower-cost air sensors have become a popular way to measure local air quality. Air sensors are often used by the public and researchers to understand air quality trends, study air quality in remote locations, supplement regulatory air monitoring, and support air quality education.
While there’s been a surge in their use, lower-cost sensors still pose certain challenges. Data quality from air sensors can widely vary, and, with no consistent methods to evaluate their performance, users can have a hard time knowing how their sensor data compares to that of regulatory air monitors. Users also face challenges with figuring out what sensors might best suit their desired application.
To address these issues, EPA researchers published two reports that recommend an approach for testing and evaluating the performance of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) air sensors for use in non-regulatory supplemental and informational monitoring (NSIM) applications. The reports – designed to be used by sensor manufacturers, developers, and testing organizations – provide a set of protocols for testing O3 and PM2.5 air sensors, metrics, and target values to evaluate sensor performance, and templates for reporting testing results. The testing protocols are entirely voluntary, and testers do not receive certification or endorsement by EPA.Continue Reading
On behalf of the NTFAQ Planning Committee and all of us at the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), the National Tribal Air Association (NTAA), and the Tribal Air Monitoring Support Center (TAMS Center), it is our pleasure to open registration to the 21st Annual National Tribal Forum on Air Quality. This year we are pleased to bring our conference to you virtually, with recorded and live presentations from tribal environmental professionals, U.S. EPA leadership and staff, and many others who are helping to advance air quality protection throughout Indian Country.
Our conference theme is “50 years of the Clean Air Act and How Traditional Wisdom Can Lead Us Into the Future”. Throughout the NTFAQ conference we will be weaving in the voices of Native youth and elders – a reminder to us all of the importance of the work we do. The tapestry of tribal air quality programs is rich and diverse, much like the traditions and languages of Native American Tribes and Alaskan Native Villages. It is in this spirit that we invite you to join us for the 2021 NTFAQ and say thank you, Mvto (Muscogee), Pilamaya (Lakota), Miigwech (Ojibwe), Wa do (Cherokee), Quyana (Yup’ik), Yokoke (Choctaw), Ahéhee’ (Dine’)!
For questions please email us at NTFAQ@nau.edu.Continue Reading
This webinar on Wildfires and Air Quality is part two of a two-part webinar on wildfires and addressing air impacts. This webinar will focus on the Smoke Sense citizen science project, and the Smoke Ready Communities Research Study. Part one will be/was held on April 8, which focused on AirNow Fire and Smoke Map, and Sensors for Community Smoke Monitoring.
These webinars are part of the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Webinar Series for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples – to build the capacity of tribal governments, indigenous peoples and other environmental justice practitioners, and discuss priority EJ issues of interest to tribes and indigenous peoples.Continue Reading
This webinar will be focused on the AirNow Fire and Smoke Map, and how air sensors can be used in a community smoke monitor network to measure how much smoke is entering indoor spaces. Part two of the webinar will focus on SmokeSense and Smoke Ready Communities, scheduled for April 21.
These webinars are part of the U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Webinar Series for Tribes and Indigenous Peoples – to build the capacity of tribal governments, indigenous peoples and other environmental justice practitioners, and discuss priority EJ issues of interest to tribes and indigenous peoples.
Lower cost air sensor technologies have flooded the marketplace and are being rapidly adopted by state, tribal and local agencies, community scientists, researchers, health professionals, schools, and many others to measure air quality conditions. Common applications for air sensors include understanding air quality trends, supplemental monitoring, monitor siting, identifying hot spots, monitoring in remote locations, personal monitoring, and educational and environmental awareness. While air sensors have become more widespread, it is commonly known that the data quality from these technologies is highly variable. Consistent testing protocols and target values have not been available to uniformly evaluate and compare different air sensor technologies to better understand their performance in real-world conditions. As a result, there is a lack of confidence in data quality and in selecting sensors that best suit an application of interest.
This webinar will highlight two reports developed by EPA’s Office of Research and Development that outline recommended performance testing protocols, metrics, and target values for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) air sensors. The reports apply to the use of PM2.5 and O3 air sensor in non-regulatory supplemental and informational monitoring (NSIM) applications in ambient, outdoor, fixed site environments. The anticipated outcomes of this work are to:
- Provide a consistent approach for evaluating air sensor performance and reporting results;
- Help the user community better understand sensor performance;
- Assist the user community in making informed decisions on choosing sensors that appropriately suit their NSIM application; and
- Encourage innovation and product improvement in the marketplace.
The Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE; nelson.wisc.edu/sage) is seeking an Outreach Specialist to manage digital and in-person communication for the NASA Health and Air Quality Applied Science Team (HAQAST.org), organize scientific workshops, and serve as the primary point of contact with NASA and a team of collaborators.
Apply by March 31.Continue Reading
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) conducted the AirNow Sensor Data Pilot during the 2020 fire season to provide the public with air sensor information on the air pollutant, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), especially during smoke events from fires. The sensor data is shown on the Fire and Smoke Map, part of the popular AirNow.gov website.
The air sensors are among several new additions to the Fire and Smoke Map, made possible with innovative technical approaches developed and applied by EPA to compare sensor data with data from regulatory grade monitors and temporary monitors provided by EPA, USFS, states, tribes and local air quality agencies. This webinar will provide an overview of the AirNow Sensor Data Pilot and the development of the U.S.-wide correction equation for PurpleAir PM2.5 sensor data and its appropriateness for correcting PM2.5 measurements during smoke events.Continue Reading