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The AirNow.gov Map Makes Air Quality Data Readily Available to the Public for the First Time

EPA AirNow Fire and Smoke Map showing data from permanent and temporary particulate matter monitors, color-coded by air quality index.
Wildfire smoke is the predominant cause of major air quality events in the United States that affect millions of Americans each year, causing significant negative health effects. To enhance the current air quality monitoring system across the country, researchers from the USDA Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agencysupplemented existing monitoring systems with data from low-cost sensors, dramatically expanding the spatial coverage of air quality monitoring systems theUnited States. This air quality information is now publicly available for the first time in a map at AirNow.gov.
 
Fiscal Year
2020
Research Unit(s)
Threat Characterization and Management
Principal Investigator(s)
State(s)
Washington
Wildfire smoke is the leading cause of major air quality events in the United States that affect millions of Americans each year. These events can trigger air quality ratings of unhealthy or worse, causing significant negative health effects. Many locations across the country, however, do not have sufficient permanent sensor networks to provide adequate monitoring of airborne particulates. A recent joint effort by the USDA Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made enhanced air quality data easily accessible to the public. As part of this effort, the Pacific Northwest Research Station led development of a public map that supplements data from permanent and temporary air quality monitors with readings from low-cost sensors located throughout the United States. The EPA applied quality control procedures and correction factors so data from the low-cost sensors are comparable with more sophisticated permanent and temporary particulate monitors. Including data from these low-cost sensors increased the total number of monitoring locations by almost five times, dramatically expanding the coverage of air quality monitoring systems the country. The map is available on theAirNow website and was viewed more than 3 million times in its first month of operation.
Forest Service Partners
  • USFS Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Research Program,
  • USFS Fire and Aviation Management
External Partners
  • Environmental Protection Agency
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/news/highlights/airnow.gov-map-makes-air-quality-data-readily-available-public-first-time