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Study: Wildfires produced up to half of pollution in western US

Researchers found that even as pollution from other sources in western states declined, the amount from fires increased sharply.
Credit: KTVB
Smoke from nearby wildfires affects air quality in Boise. (file photo)

BILLINGS, Mont. — Researchers say in a new study that wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all small particle air pollution in parts of the western U.S. in recent years. 

The researchers from Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego used satellite images and air quality data to model how much pollution was generated by fires. 

They found that even as pollution from other sources in western states declined, the amount from fires increased sharply.

The findings underscore the growing public health threat posed by climate change as it contributes to catastrophic wildfires such as those in California and the Pacific Northwest in 2020.