Mitigating Wildfire Smoke Inside Homes: Evidence from Oregon, September 2020.

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Risk Analysis : an Official Publication of the Society for Risk Analysis

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The smoke produced by wildfires can travel great distances and lead to respiratory and/or cardiovascular health impacts through inhalation. Individuals can reduce exposure by implementing smoke mitigation measures in their homes and beyond. In this article, we examine household level survey data (n = 543) on wildfire smoke mitigation in response to the September 2020 wildfires that occurred in the state of Oregon (and beyond). The air quality was hazardous for about 10 days in many affected regions. This study assessed the implementation of six commonly referenced approaches to reducing exposure to smoke: staying indoors; keeping doors and windows closed, turning on HVAC; using air purifiers; replacing air filters, and wearing face masks. We found high levels of implementation of staying indoors and keeping doors and windows closed; however, statistical analysis of socioeconomic demographics suggests that respondents vary in the implementation of the other measures. Income, number of exposure days, and access to information on smoke mitigation were positively associated with the implementation. Given the importance of information access for implementation for three of the measures, we also present data on how different age groups prefer to be contacted about air quality and smoke mitigation. For example, participants above 65 years of age prefer local TV as opposed to social media, whereas text messages were favored by all age groups. These survey results will help to inform the design of campaigns to engage community members differentially and potentially affect best communication practices and other assistance/preparation for smoke mitigation across demographics.


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