Join us for a conversation about the recent release of the EPA Report on Comparing Air Quality and Public Health Impacts from Prescribed Fire and Wildfire Smoke. Jason Sacks, with the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be joining us for an overview of the studies that provided the information for this report aimed at helping federal, state, local and Tribal partners and fire organizations make risk management decisions to reduce the impacts of wildfire smoke in their communities.Continue Reading
Join the EPA on October 26 as we announce the winners of the Cleaner Indoor Air During Wildfires Challenge. Winners will share their innovative designs for low-cost solutions that quietly and safely reduce indoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) during periods when outdoor PM2.5 concentrations are high.
EPA and its federal, state, local and tribal partners held a Challenge competition to encourage the development of detailed plans for novel, effective, low-cost technologies to reduce indoor PM2.5 concentrations and protect public health during wildfire smoke events.
Exposure to PM2.5, an air pollutant from wildfire smoke and other sources, can be harmful to lung and heart health, especially for those with pre-existing health conditions.Continue Reading
Air pollution and wildfire smoke can have immediate and lasting health effects. Individuals who are regularly exposed to poor air quality may report different health behaviors and conditions than those who are less exposed. EPA researchers set out to determine whether self-reported protective behaviors or health conditions differed by air quality.
To conduct this research EPA scientists developed Smoke Sense, a citizen science project which provides real-time information on wildfire smoke and air quality and allows users to engage in citizen science by reporting their experiences with smoke, heath symptoms, and exposure-reducing behaviors.
Through the participation of citizen scientists, EPA seeks to understand the relationship between health risk communication strategies and individuals’ adoption of health protective behaviors. The study explores the role of risk perceptions and personal motivations for engagement and changing behavior.
Smoke Sense also demonstrates effective use of technology for health research and risk communication. Using a mobile app, Smoke Sense advances methodology for rigorously collecting data during emergent and dynamic conditions while simultaneously encouraging adoption of exposure-reducing behaviors.Continue Reading
EPA researchers are working to provide the science needed to better prepare and respond to outdoor and indoor wildfire smoke. The science is part of a large federal initiative by the Biden-Harris Administration outlined in a White House fact sheet to address the growing threat from wildfires, which are increasing in size and intensity, driven in large part by climate change.Continue Reading
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award Program – is seeking applications proposing to research, develop, design, and demonstrate solutions to real world challenges. The P3 competition highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative technology-based projects that achieve the mutual goals of improved quality of life, economic prosperity and environmental protection. The EPA offers the P3 competition in response to the environmental and public health challenges in the United States, including those in small, rural, tribal and/or underserved communities. Please see the P3 Student Design Competition website for more details about this program. Proposed projects must embody the P3 approach, which is that they have the intention and capability to simultaneously improve the quality of people’s lives, provide economic benefits and protect the environment.
Solicitation Closing Date: October 27, 2021: 11:59:59 pm Eastern TimeContinue 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/
Smoke in wildfire prone states is a growing health concern, especially for vulnerable populations. EPA is collaborating with partners to develop guidance to protect those who are in schools, commercial buildings and other public buildings from wildfire smoke exposure. A newly released interim guide provides recommendations and processes for developing a smoke readiness plan for commercial buildings that can be implemented when smoke is forecasted and during smoky days.Continue Reading
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
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
Host: EPA Office of Research and Development
Presenter: Wayne E. Cascio, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment, EPA Office of Research and Development
Over the past 50 years to meet its mission of protecting human health and the environment, EPA has worked to ensure that all Americans have access to clean air, land and water. Environmental law, policy and science have afforded the U.S. improved environmental quality across all media with attendant benefits to human health. Advances in clinical and population-based research methods, engineering, technology and medicine have increased our knowledge of air pollution and its constituents, the way the pollution is generated and moves in the atmosphere, as well as the impacts this pollution has on human health and ecosystems. Air research conducted and funded by EPA’s Office of Research and Development has contributed substantially over the past 50 years to establishing the Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Research has linked regulated air pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter (PM) to lung and heart disease and other health problems. This research is in-part responsible for increasing the average life expectancy of Americans by approximately five to eight months according to findings from a 2009 EPA-supported study. This webinar will discuss the parallel progress of EPA science, the evolution of the technology used for studying air quality and health, and our understanding of heart disease, improvement in air quality and human health.
Registration Required: https://epawebconferencing.acms.com/tools_august2020/event/registration.htmlContinue Reading