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Social Vulnerability in USCommunities Affected by WildfireSmoke, 2011 to 2021

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Objectives. To describe demographic and social characteristics of US communities exposed to wildfire smoke. Methods. Using satellite-collected data on wildfire smoke with the locations of population centers in the coterminous United States, we identified communities potentially exposed to light-, medium-, and heavy-density smoke plumes for each day from 2011 to 2021. We linked days of exposure to smoke in each category of smoke plume density with 2010 US Census data and community characteristics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index to describe the co-occurrence of smoke exposure and social disadvantage. Results. During the 2011-to-2021 study period, increases in the number of days of heavy smoke were observed in communities representing 87.3% of the US population, with notably large increases in communities characterized by racial or ethnic minority status, limited English proficiency, lower educational attainment, and crowded housing conditions. Conclusions. From 2011 to 2021, wildfire smoke exposures in the United States increased. As smoke exposure becomes more frequent and intense, interventions that address communities with social disadvantages might maximize their public health impact. (Am J Public Health. 2023;113(7):759–767.
Jason Vargo PhD, Brooke Lappe, Maria C. Mirabelli, and Kathryn C. Conlon
“Social Vulnerability in US Communities Affected by Wildfire Smoke, 2011 to 2021”, American Journal of Public Health 113, no. 7 (July 1, 2023): pp. 759-767.