California Air Resources Board releases California Smoke Spotter 2.0
SACRAMENTO – Californians can now get wildfire alerts and smoke forecasts straight to their phones with the new version of the California Smoke Spotter mobile app. The update of this first-of-its-kind app, launched last year by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to help people prepare for smoke impacts from prescribed fires, boasts a suite of new tools to help users protect themselves from smoke during wildfire season.
New features of the upgraded app include:
- Personalized alerts for new wildfires
- Next-day wildfire smoke forecast for localities statewide
- Wildfire details including size, containment and lead firefighting agency
- Air Quality Index (AQI) data from PurpleAir sensors to provide users with real-time smoke conditions (in addition to AQI data from permanent and temporary air monitors)
“California is leading the nation in the fight against climate change, while simultaneously experiencing some of its worst effects firsthand, including wildfires,” said CARB Board Chair Liane Randolph. “As California accelerates its wildfire resilience efforts, it’s more important than ever to protect Californians not just from the flames, but from the health impacts of wildfire smoke. This new version of the California Smoke Spotter app uses the best data and technology to help users make smart decisions to protect their health during wildfires and wildfire smoke episodes.”
In certain conditions, smoke can travel vast distances, affecting people hundreds of miles from the wildfire that produced it. It can contain a range of harmful air pollutants, from known toxins to tiny particles that can aggravate existing health problems and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and symptoms of asthma.
Wildfire smoke can be especially dangerous for sensitive groups including children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with heart or respiratory conditions. Health problems related to wildfire smoke exposure can be as mild as eye and respiratory tract irritation and as serious as worsening of heart and lung disease, including asthma.
As part of California’s Wildfire Resilience Program, state forestry policy calls for an increase in fuels reduction efforts including the use of prescribed fire. In support of that policy, CARB launched California Smoke Spotter in 2021 as part of its efforts to help the state balance air quality protection with fire protection and land management goals. The new version of the California Smoke Spotter app still contains all its original features, including forecasts of smoke from prescribed fires, and tips and pointers on how users can protect themselves from smoke.