Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice

 

Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice

 

The Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice (Smoke Center) will be a hub for conducting research and sharing information between practitioners, researchers, and communities across Oregon.

 

Community Impact

Wildfire smoke is an increasingly common public health hazard in the United States.

People with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, asthma, the young and elderly, and unhoused populations face increased health risks from smoke. Additionally, those without adequate home air filtration, who are unhoused, or work outdoors can be particularly vulnerable to smoke exposure.

We are using research to assist community and household adaption to living with smoke.

Together, the Smoke Center and its partners will produce actionable ways Oregon communities, local governments and agencies can better prepare for smoke events and support vulnerable populations. Furthermore, these evidence-based approaches and lessons learned can both add to and expand on the existing knowledge and practices across the US West.

Community Impact

Wildfire smoke is an increasingly common public health hazard in the United States.

People with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, asthma, the young and elderly, and unhoused populations face increased health risks from smoke. Additionally, those without adequate home air filtration, who are unhoused, or work outdoors can be particularly vulnerable to smoke exposure.

We are using research to assist community and household adaption to living with smoke.

Together, the Smoke Center and its partners will produce actionable ways Oregon communities, local governments and agencies can better prepare for smoke events and support vulnerable populations. Furthermore, these evidence-based approaches and lessons learned can both add to and expand on the existing knowledge and practices across the US West.

Current Areas of Focus

Three people distributing air filters
Photo credit: Oakridge Air

Community and Household Preparation

Goals

Identify how the public experiences wildfire smoke, gathers information, and what actions they take.

Understand the scope and scale of community-level planning and preparation.

Outcomes

Support community leaders' ongoing efforts and approaches to better target communications, outreach, and engagement.

Improve existing guidance by identifying resource and information gaps, and assessing the efficacy of smoke response plans.

Air purifer
Photo credit: Oakridge Air

Communicating Public Health Smoke Risks

Goals

Assess smoke messaging consistency.

Learn how communication networks and public education are used to include and support vulnerable populations.

Outcome

Provide community leaders and community-based organizations with best practices to support and create smoke ready communities that are inclusive of sensitive populations.

Smoky sky above grass and path
Photo credit: Jess Downey

Planning and Response Smoke Events

Goals

Evaluate the effectiveness of planning, preparation, and response during smoke events.

Identify lessons learned and what additional preparation, capacities, and organizational networks are needed.

Outcome

Support emergency managers and their partners' decision making to better prepare their communities for future smoke events.

IROCE leaders with Jeff Merkley

Funding Acknowledgement

Oregon's U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden secured the funding for the Smoke Center as a community-initiative project to help ensure Oregon communities are better prepared for wildfire smoke events. The Environmental Protection Agency funding is part of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriation portion of the FY 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The funding is for three years, from 2023-2026 (EPA-ORD-OSAPE-2022-01).

Read More

News Feed

Read the latest news from the Smoke Center. 

At the University of Oregon, researchers from various fields are studying the effects of wildfire and how to create fire-resilient communities.
Longer wildfire seasons are leading to worsening air quality across Oregon. The UO's Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice is working to reduce risks of wildfire smoke.
A panel of University of Oregon professors including Heidi Huber-Stearns director of the Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice, discussed the 2024 wildfire season in an online forum with journalists as the West braces for summer fires.

More News

Meet The Team

Heidi Huber-Stearns

Associate Research Professor
Director, Center for Wildfire Smoke Research and Practice
she/her/hers


Michael Coughlan

Assistant Research Professor
Associate Director, EWP
he/him/his


Jess Downey

Smoke Center Manager
Faculty Researcher, EWP
they/she


Hollie Smith

Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication
Associate Director, Center for Science Communication Research
she/her/hers

 

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130 Hendricks Hall
Eugene OR 97403