Where there’s smoke
When there is wildfire smoke in the air, local residents are told to stay inside. But how much does this actually protect people from hazardous air? In a study that used air sensor data from the crowdsourced PurpleAir network, Berkeley engineers found that by taking steps like closing up their houses and using indoor filtration, residents of the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas cut the infiltration of PM2.5 particulate matter to their homes by half on wildfire days. The researchers also used the real estate website Zillow to estimate the characteristics, age and types of buildings in the sensor network, as well as the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood, and found that newer homes and those with central air conditioning were significantly better at keeping wildfire smoke out. Current graduate student Yutong Liang (M.S.’15 CEE) was the study’s first author; Allen Goldstein, professor of environmental engineering and of environmental science, policy and management, and Joshua Apte, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public health, were senior authors.
Learn more: How much wildfire smoke is infiltrating our homes? (Berkeley News)