Smoke from fire can sharply reduce air quality by releasing particulate matter, one of the most dangerous types of air pollution for human health. A third of U.S. households have someone sensitive to smoke. Minimizing the amount and impact of smoke is a high priority for land managers and regulators. One tool for achieving that goal is prescribed fire. Prescribed fire can be controlled and planned carefully to minimize smoke impacts and warn communities in advance. It can also help reduce decades worth of vegetation buildup from past fire exclusion and help restore dry, fire-adapted forests. Forest Service research is helping decisionmakers plan for, predict, and control smoke from fires and communicate smoke impacts to the public.
White, Rachel; Hessburg, Paul; Larkin, Sim; Varner, Morgan. 2017. Smoke in a new era of fire. Science Update 24. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 16 p.