Major Health Impacts from Wildfire Smoke Uncovered in New Investigation

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A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through the area on November 8, 2018 in Paradise, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Residents of the small Northern California town of Willows suffered from smoke-filled air four out of twelve months in 2020. That makes it the smokiest place in the Western United States. That’s according to a recent analysis by NPR’s California Newsroom that looked at air quality across the state--and the country--between 2016 and 2020. We’ll hear about the investigation and catch up on the newest science on how smoke affects health. Then at 10:40, we’ll dive deep in on how to read and interpret air quality maps, and which ones are best.


Farida Jhabvala Romero, reporter, KQED

Alison Saldanha, investigative data reporter, NPR's California newsroom

John Balmes, professor of medicine and air quality expert, UCSF; professor of environmental health sciences, UC Berkeley

Ranyee Chiang, director of meteorology and measurement, Bay Area Air Quality Management District