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Smoke Management Guide for Prescribed Fire

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The NWCG Smoke Management Guide for Prescribed Fire contains information on prescribed fire smoke management techniques, air quality regulations, smoke monitoring, modeling, communication, public perception of prescribed fire and smoke, climate change, practical meteorological approaches, and smoke tools. The primary focus of this document is to serve as the textbook in support of NWCG’s RX-410, Smoke Management Techniques course which is required for the position of Prescribed Fire Burn Boss Type 2 (RXB2). The Guide is useful to all who use prescribed fire, from private land owners to federal land managers, with practical tools, and underlying science. Many chapters are helpful for addressing air quality impacts from wildfires. It is intended to assist those who are following the guidance of the NWCG’s Interagency Prescribed Fire Planning and Implementation Procedures Guide, PMS 484,  in planning for, and addressing, smoke when conducting prescribed fires.

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Wildfire smoke: A guide for public health officials

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This document, originally developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is designed to help local public health officials prepare for smoke events, to take measures to protect the public when smoke is present, and communicate with the public about wildfire smoke and health.

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Wildfire smoke cools summer river and stream water temperatures

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This study analyzed data on summer wildfire smoke, solar radiation, air temperatures, precipitation, river discharge, and water temperatures in the lower Klamath River Basin in Northern California. Previous studies have focused on the effect of combustion heat on water temperatures during fires and the effect of riparian vegetation losses on postfire water temperatures, but we know of no studies of the effects of wildfire smoke on river or stream water temperatures. Smoke had a cooling effect on water temperatures at all 12 river and stream locations analyzed. On average, smoke cooled daily maximum and mean water temperatures by 1.32 °C and 0.74 °C per 1.0 AOT, respectively. This smoke-induced cooling has the potential to benefit cold-water adapted species, particularly because wildfires are more likely to occur during the warmest and driest years and seasons.

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Fire behavior and smoke modelling: Needs for next-generation forecasting

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This review paper presents simulations and experiments of hypothetical prescribed burns with a suite of selected fire behavior and smoke models and identifies major issues for model improvement and the most critical observational needs. The results are used to understand the new and improved capability required for the next-generation SRF systems and to support the design of the Fire and Smoke Model Evaluation Experiment (FASMEE) and other field campaigns. The next-generation SRF systems should have more coupling of fire, smoke and atmospheric processes. The development of the coupling capability requires comprehensive and spatially and temporally integrated measurements across the various disciplines to characterize flame and energy structure (e.g. individual cells, vertical heat profile and the height of well-mixing flaming gases), smoke structure (vertical distributions and multiple subplumes), ambient air processes (smoke eddy, entrainment and radiative effects of smoke aerosols) and fire emissions (for different fuel types and combustion conditions from flaming to residual smouldering), as well as night-time processes (smoke drainage and super-fog formation).

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Smoke emissions sensing and sampling by unmanned aircraft systems: Development and testing

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Poor air quality arising from prescribed and wildfire smoke emissions poses threats to human health and therefore must be taken into account for the planning and implementation of prescribed burns for reducing contemporary fuel loading and other management goals. To better understand how smoke properties vary as a function of fuel beds and environmental conditions, we developed and tested a compact portable instrument package that integrates direct air sampling with air quality and meteorology sensing, suitable for in situ data collection within burn units and as a payload on multi-rotor small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs). This study presents and discusses design specifications for the system and preliminary data collected in controlled burns at Tall Timbers Research Station, FL, USA and Sycan Marsh Preserve, OR, USA.

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Estimating fire smoke related health burden and novel tools to manage impacts on urban populations

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This study comprehensively assessed the health risks posed by smoke exposure, and constructed new tools to estimate and forecast smoke concentration levels and associated health effects. We accomplished these goals with four specific aims. In Aim 1, we compared the chemical composition of fine PM emanating from fire smoke with typical urban PM in the US. In Aim 2, we conducted a systematic review and meta analysis of the risk estimates to evaluate the risks of smoke exposure for all relevant health outcomes. In Aim 4 we combined model-based predicted smoke exposure with health and economic assessment tools to provide real-time forecasts of health risk over space and time. In this report, we describe the results of this work and their impact on the field.

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Comparing smoke exposure from wildfires and Rx fires

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This study examines the differences in community level exposures to smoke from both wildfire and prescribed fire.

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Smoke exposure health effects and mitigations for wildland fire personnel

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Wildland firefighters are exposed to wood smoke, which contains hazardous air pollutants, during wildland fire management assignments across the U.S. each year. In this webinar, Kathleen Navarro, PhD, presented on a recent Joint Fire Science Program study estimating the lifetime risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease from exposure to particulate matter (PM) from smoke. This analysis combined measured PM exposures on wildfires, estimated wildland firefighter breathing rates, and an exposure disease relationship for PM to estimate mortality of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality from lifetime exposure to PM. In addition, Zone Fuels AFMO, Megan Martinez, reviewed previous smoke research, as well as field-based experiences with successes and challenges of implementing smoke exposure mitigations.

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Smoke Sense App

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EPA researchers initiated a citizen science project called Smoke Sense. This project has two broad objectives. The first to increase awareness of the known health effects associated with exposure to wildfire smoke. The second is to further advance the scientific understanding of that relationship, specifically to:

  1. Understand the subclinical health impacts of wildland fire smoke
  2. Discover how people protect their health during smoke exposure
  3. Develop effective strategies to communicate health risks from smoke exposure

Individuals who want to contribute to science can participate in the study by using the Smoke Sense app, a publicly available mobile application on the Google Play Store and the App Store.

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Wildland fire smoke health effects on wildland firefighters and the public

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Using epidemiology studies to understand the exposure-response relationship for PM, this study found that firefighters were at an increased risk for long-term health effects from smoke exposure. The risk for lung cancer mortality increases nearly linearly with exposures over time and is more strongly influenced by exposure duration than are the risks of death from cardiovascular or ischemic heart disease. On the other hand, the risk of cardiovascular mortality rises steeply for doses in the range we estimated for firefighter exposures but flattens out at higher exposures to PM. The data presented in this paper clearly identify the crews and activities most likely to exceed occupational exposure limits and firefighters may have a an increased health risk from smoke exposures.

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