Hotter, drier climates in the western United States are causing larger and more frequent wildland fires. Smoke from western wildfires can span a much larger area, significantly impacting air quality across the entire United States.
The spread of wildfire smoke highlights how important it is to have up-to-date information on air quality hazards. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released updates in 2021 to the popular AirNow Fire and Smoke Map. The map provides near-real-time information to enhance awareness of air quality hazards from wildfire smoke.
To make information more accessible and actionable for users, the updated Fire and Smoke Map includes a dashboard to give users quick access to key information. Included on the dashboard is:
- The Air Quality Index (AQI) category at the monitor/sensor location.
- Information showing whether air quality is getting better or worse.
- Actions to consider taking, based on the current AQI.
The Fire and Smoke Map is also mobile-friendly for people who visit AirNow.gov from a smartphone or tablet. The map is available as part of the AirNow app .
The EPA and USFS launched the Fire and Smoke Map as a pilot in 2020 to provide the public with 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 3 months.
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This article is based on content in the
July 22, 2021 InfoGram.
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