Wildfire smoke affects air quality in California and Oregon

PM2.5 air quality smoke
This map was updated July 29, 2019 showing raw PM2.5 instantaneous data which comes from low-cost sensors which are not calibrated, quality controlled, do not have standardized citing criteria, and have a lifetime of only 1-3 yrs.

Smoke from the Milepost 97 Fire south of Canyonville, Oregon is significantly affecting air quality in Southwest Oregon and Northern California. In some areas near Medford, Oregon it has reached the “Very Unhealthy” air pollution level which could affect the entire population, especially anyone active and people with respiratory disease.

wildfire smoke map forecast
The forecast for the distribution of wildfire smoke at 8 p.m. PDT July 28, 2019. Click to enlarge.


Information about the Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Wildfire smoke affects air quality in California and Oregon”

  1. We are a new nonprofit:
    Green Forests Matter in Sisters, Oregon .
    We are citizens who care about keeping our forest green.
    Our plan is to educate the public on the necessities for agencies to work togather, putting wildfires out immediately, increasing forest management and putting funds into reforestation.

  2. First, remove the AQI legend (as the health messages are only intended for 24-hr average data from reference methods).
    Second, note this is instantaneous data from low-cost sensors which are not calibrated, quality controlled, do not have standardized citing criteria, and have a lifetime of only 1-3 yrs. This data is incomparable to standard PM2.5 reference methods which are subject to strict protocols to insure quality data.
    Third, remove the “Very Unhealthy” wording, as at the time of this screen shot the actual EPA AQI was NOT Very Unhealthy.
    Lastly, read and summarize this document on interpretation and communication of low-cost sensors for measurements (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/interpretation_and_communication_of_short-term_air_sensor_data_a_pilot_project.pdf) and explore the EPA’s Sensor Toolbox (https://www.epa.gov/air-sensor-toolbox).

    For future articles, use the drop down on the PurpleAir map (where it says US EPA AQI) and change it to PM2.5 ug/m3. That way you are presenting actual data and not an application of the AQI for purposes it was not intended for. Note, there has been a lot of conversation around PurpleAir using “US EPA AQI” when it’s not 24-hr average data from standard reference methods. I use PurpleAir data often and it’s useful, as an indicator of worsening or lessening PM2.5 levels, but it cannot be confused with standard reference methods and 24-hr average AQI health messages.

      1. Looks good. I appreciate your attention to these details. Wildfire today is a value resource and you do some really great work here. Thank you.

  3. Be careful using Purple Air data as they use the AQI for instantaneous data. The AQI was established by the EPA for a 24 hr average of PM2.5 concentrations. AQ regulatory officials are working hard to amend this public misinformation. As it stands, this article is in correct without additional context.


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