Evaluation of Model-Based PM_2.5 Estimates for Exposure Assessment During Wildfire Smoke Episodes in the Western U.S

by   Ellen M. Considine, et al.

Investigating the health impacts of wildfire smoke requires data on people's exposure to fine particulate matter (PM_2.5) across space and time. In recent years, it has become common to use statistical models to fill gaps in monitoring data across space and time. However, it remains unclear how well these models are able to capture spikes in PM_2.5 during and across wildfire events. Here, we evaluate the accuracy of two sets of high-coverage and high-resolution model-based PM_2.5 estimates created by Di et al. (2021) and Reid et al. (2021). In general, as well as across different seasons, states, and levels of PM_2.5, the Reid estimates are more accurate than the Di estimates when compared to independent validation data from mobile smoke monitors deployed by the US Forest Service (mean bias -2.6 μ g/m^3 for Reid and -6.6 μ g/m^3 for Di). However, both models tend to severely under-predict PM_2.5 on high-pollution days. Our findings illustrate the need for increased air pollution monitoring in the western US and support the inclusion of wildfire-specific monitoring observations and predictor variables in model-based estimates of PM_2.5.


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