WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced an update to its Smoke Sense mobile application, which can help users learn about air quality conditions during a wildfire and how to protect their health from smoke.
The Smoke Sense app is part of a research study that is aimed at:
- Understanding the extent to which smoke from wildfires impacts human health and productivity;
- Discovering how people protect their health during smoke exposure; and
- Developing effective strategies to communicate risks from smoke exposure.
The app, which was piloted in 2017 during the first year of the study, provides current and forecasted air quality using the Air Quality Index (AQI), and maps of fire locations and smoke plumes.
New features in the 2018 update include:
- Time of last measurement of two air pollutants present during wildfires—fine particulate matter and ozone;
- Access to the most current information about individual fires;
- Maps of hourly forecasts of smoke and ozone across the continental U.S.;
- Smoke Smarts module to test your knowledge of wildfire smoke exposure; and
- Upgraded graphics and streamlined tutorials and information buttons.
Smoke from wildfires can cause eye, ear, nose and respiratory problems and worsen lung and heart disease.
Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to smoke exposure.
Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and EPA Science Advisor, said,
“This user-friendly research tool enables individuals to participate in a citizen science study while also learning about what they can do to protect themselves from smoke during wildland fires.”