Stanford researchers find wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains, exposing millions of Americans to extreme pollution levels

Wildfire smoke now exposes millions of Americans each year to dangerous levels of fine particulate matter, lofting enough soot across parts of the West in recent years to erase much of the air quality gains made over the last two decades.

Those are among the findings of a new Stanford University study published Sept. 22 in Environmental Science & Technology that focuses on a type of particle pollution known as PM2.5, which can lodge deep in our lungs and even get into our bloodstream.

Using statistical modeling and artificial intelligence techniques, the researchers estimated concentrations of PM2.5 specifically from wildfire smoke in sharp enough detail to reveal variations within individual counties and individual smoke events from coast to coast from 2006 to 2020.

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