Profiles of Innovative State Programs: Washington - Indoor Air Quality During Wildfires

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) provides information on wildfire smoke, including health effects, populations at risk, and steps for preventing and addressing exposure. In 2015, the Department developed guidance for schools and other mechanically-ventilated buildings on how to address ventilation and indoor air quality during wildfire events.

Why is this Project Important?

Recent years have seen increased focus on the potential for climate change to produce more frequent and severe wildfires. Smoke from wildfires is a complex mixture of gases and fine particles, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Exposure to smoke can cause respiratory and heart disease, as well as other health effects. People inside schools and other buildings can be affected if wildfire smoke enters the building.

What Materials Have Been Developed Under the Project?

The Washington State DOH has recently released a new guidance document, entitled: Improving Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality during Wildfire Smoke Events: Recommendations for Schools and Buildings with Mechanical Ventilation. The document describes how to manage a building’s ventilation to improve indoor air quality when outside air is in a hazardous or unhealthy category. The guidance also offers general information on filtration and air cleaning to improve indoor air quality.

The DOH has also released guidance on outside activities and wildfire smoke, Air Pollution and School Activities Guide: Public Health Recommendations for Schools on Fine Particle Air Pollution.

How Can You Learn More?

Visit the Washington State DOH wildfire pages: