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Open AccessArticle

Mapping Modeled Exposure of Wildland Fire Smoke for Human Health Studies in California

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Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2
Michigan Tech Research Institute, Michigan Technological University, Ann Arbor, MI, 48105 USA
3
Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709 USA
4
Health Behavior Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
5
Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
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Environmental Health Investigations Branch, California Department of Public Health, Richmond, CA 94804, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(6), 308; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10060308
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 1 June 2019 / Published: 4 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Smoke Management)
Wildland fire smoke exposure affects a broad proportion of the U.S. population and is increasing due to climate change, settlement patterns and fire seclusion. Significant public health questions surrounding its effects remain, including the impact on cardiovascular disease and maternal health. Using atmospheric chemical transport modeling, we examined general air quality with and without wildland fire smoke PM2.5. The 24-h average concentration of PM2.5 from all sources in 12-km gridded output from all sources in California (2007–2013) was 4.91 μg/m3. The average concentration of fire-PM2.5 in California by year was 1.22 μg/m3 (~25% of total PM2.5). The fire-PM2.5 daily mean was estimated at 4.40 μg/m3 in a high fire year (2008). Based on the model-derived fire-PM2.5 data, 97.4% of California’s population lived in a county that experienced at least one episode of high smoke exposure (“smokewave”) from 2007–2013. Photochemical model predictions of wildfire impacts on daily average PM2.5 carbon (organic and elemental) compared to rural monitors in California compared well for most years but tended to over-estimate wildfire impacts for 2008 (2.0 µg/m3 bias) and 2013 (1.6 µg/m3 bias) while underestimating for 2009 (−2.1 µg/m3 bias). The modeling system isolated wildfire and PM2.5 from other sources at monitored and unmonitored locations, which is important for understanding population exposure in health studies. Further work is needed to refine model predictions of wildland fire impacts on air quality in order to increase confidence in the model for future assessments. Atmospheric modeling can be a useful tool to assess broad geographic scale exposure for epidemiologic studies and to examine scenario-based health impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildland fire; air quality; exposure; particulate matter; geospatial analysis; public health; chemical transport model; atmospheric modeling; epidemiology wildland fire; air quality; exposure; particulate matter; geospatial analysis; public health; chemical transport model; atmospheric modeling; epidemiology
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Koman, P.D.; Billmire, M.; Baker, K.R.; de Majo, R.; Anderson, F.J.; Hoshiko, S.; Thelen, B.J.; French, N.H. Mapping Modeled Exposure of Wildland Fire Smoke for Human Health Studies in California. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 308.

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