Date: February 23, 2017
Presenter(s): Kris Ray, Shelly Miller
Description: Kris Ray from the Air Quality Program of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation presented his experience monitoring indoor air quality during the 2015 wildfire season, and Dr. Shelly Miller from the University of Colorado shared her findings on the effectiveness of air cleaning devices and weatherization for protecting indoor air quality during smoke events. A quarter-million acres of the Colville Reservation burned during the 2015 wildfire season. Ambient fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations measured by monitors on the Reservation exceed 1000 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) for extended periods of time. During this time a visible haze was present in daycare centers, Head Start classes, health clinics and government buildings. The Air Quality Program used a Met One Aerocet 831 mass profiler to estimate PM2.5 concentrations indoors. The results from this survey will be presented, as well as strategies to cope with unhealthy indoor air. Wildland fires are a major source of fine particulate (PM2.5) and Dr. Miller reviewed results from a study on indoor particulate levels and mitigation measures during prescribed burns and wildfires in Colorado. The goal of this project was to understand the impact of air cleaning device use and keeping windows closed during smoke events. Pairs of residences were monitored inside and outside during four fires. Outdoor 24-hr average PM2.5 concentrations ranging from 6 to 38 ug/m3 were measured during the fires, compared with levels of 2–5 ug/m3 during background measurements when no fires were burning. During the fires, PM2.5 was <3 ug/m3 inside all of the houses with air cleaners installed. This corresponds with a decrease of 63–88% in homes with the air cleaners operating when compared with homes without air cleaners. In homes without the air cleaners, measured indoor concentrations were 58–100% of that measured outdoors. Additionally, Dr. Miller summarized a current study measuring indoor air quality during the Colorado fire season in homes that have been weatherized. They have preliminary data from the 2016 season and are preparing for the 2017 season.