Video: Be ‘air quality aware’ due to wildfire smoke

Video: Ron Bend/CSU

Colorado State University researchers Sheryl Magzamen and Jeff Pierce discuss air quality and how to become more aware of weather-related indicators during wildfire season. Even when the wildfire is several states away, the effects can still be harmful.

Magzamen, an associate professor in CSU’s Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, and Pierce, professor in CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science, found in a study published in February 2021 that long-range smoke was associated with expected increases in hospitalizations and increased risk of death from cardiovascular outcomes.

But when the research team separated out health effects of smoke from local wildfires in early summer 2012 from long-range smoke from late summer 2012 and summer 2015, they found that local wildfires were associated with meaningful decreases in hospitalizations, especially for asthma.

Magzamen said people should become “air quality aware, know what the Air Quality Index means,” and check on friends and neighbors that might be susceptible to smoke-polluted air.

Pierce said people can check the air quality on their phones or watch, listen to and read news reports.

“If you see it’s hazy, you may want to look things up,” he said.