Thursday, 05 August, 2021

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U.S enlightens public with Information, resources on wildfire smoke


The U.S government is embarking on a public enlightenment campaign to provide information and resources on wildfire smoke.

It is doing this through a coalition between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service.

Both agencies 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.

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. 

“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. 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.”

  Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator

USAGE

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.