212 million American live in counties affected by wildfire smoke

Blog Post created by hyltonhaynes Employee on Oct 30, 2013

As we learned yesterday from one of my colleagues LisaMarie, our NFPA corporate headquarters here in Quincy, Massachusetts was severely impact by smoke caused by a small 21 acre fire burning 0.5 miles due west in the Blue Hills Forest Reservation.  Because smoke tends to sink, my colleagues working on the ground floor of our four story building were the most uncomfortable during the course of the work day.  Most of the complaints were respiratory in nature and shortness in breath.

Year of FiresIn the book I am currently reading by Stephen J. Pyne: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910, Stephen describes how more that more than a century ago people in New England were being impacted by smoke from fires in western states more than 2,200 miles away.

More recently, the significance of this smoke impact was analyzed in a Natural Resources Defense Council report titled “Where There’s is Fire, There’s Smoke”.  The basic premise of the report is wildfires will get worse with climate change and society is not only going to be endangered by those located near the wildfires, but also the health of millions of Americans who are exposed to wildfire smoke that can drift hundreds of miles.  According to the report more than two-thirds of the United States population lived in counties affected by smoke conditions in 2011.

Source: NOAA smoke map for fires burning on August 24, 2013