• Wildfires, Air Quality and Smoke

    Quick stats and tips to help keep you safer and more air-aware during wildfire season.

    Forest Fire info graphic

    Since 2000, an average of 73,200 wildfires have burned more than 6.9 million acres of land annually in the United States*, destroying homes and belongings, forcing people to evacuate and causing an increase in air pollution.

    Wildfires by the Numbers

    States Most Affected by Wildfires

    In the United States, wildfires are most prevalent in the western part, where conditions are drier. These natural disasters can have devastating, far-reaching effects for the 4.5 million homes that are considered to be at high or extreme risk.*** Even if a wildfire is hundreds of miles away, the smoke can still impact the quality of the air you breathe.

    States most effected by wildfires

    How Wildfires Impact Air Quality

    Although the flames from wildfires can wreak havoc, it’s the smoke they produce that has the biggest impact on outdoor air quality. In fact, even if a wildfire is hundreds of miles away, the smoke can still affect the quality of the air you breathe.

    Wildfire smoke is composed of a mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic materials burn. These include carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and organic chemicals****. For most people, the biggest wildfire smoke concern, from a respiratory standpoint, typically comes from the particulate matter.

    The Air Quality Index assesses the level of five major air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. An AQI of 0-50 is good; above 100 the air quality exceeds the US EPA daily standard and starts to trigger air quality cautioning and alerts.

    Wildfires impact Air Quality and Health

    Quick Tips to Help Reduce Your Exposure to Wildfire Air

    Proactive steps to improve indoor air quality

    • Stay inside as much as possible with windows and doors closed
    • Refrain from lighting candles, vacuuming and smoking indoors
    • Continuously run your HVAC fan to filter the air inside
    • Install a high efficiency HVAC air filter, such as the smoke-trapping Filtrete™ Smart Air Filter
    • If you don't have an HVAC system, use a portable room air purifier in rooms where you spend the most time

    If you need to go outside, an N95 disposable respirator may help reduce particulates from the air you breathe. For more information about respirators for use during a wildfire visit the Center for Disease Control's Respirator Fact Sheet. Some respirators that may help with particulate pollution from wildfires include 3M™ N95 disposable respirators models such as: 8110s, 8210, 8210Plus or 8511.