Disruptions from Wildfire Smoke: 12th District Data Portal and Regional Snapshots

In Fall 2022, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published Disruptions from Wildfire Smoke: Vulnerabilities in Local Economies and Disadvantaged Communities in the U.S. The report described increasing wildfire smoke trends across the entire country, including communities located far from fires. The research found that the Twelfth Federal Reserve District, served by the SF Fed, was distinctly impacted. Wildfire smoke can interrupt business and has important economic implications, including increased occupational hazards for outdoor workers, school closures, and increased costs for renters and homeowners.

Use the following tools–including interactive maps and regional snapshots–to find more local information on wildfire smoke and the extent to which communities have been exposed across the District.

Interactive wildfire smoke data

The tool below allows users to investigate wildfire smoke and disadvantaged communities more closely. Select a state or click on one or more counties to view information on amounts of heavy smoke days experienced in those locations. Gather information on populations that may be more sensitive to the impacts of heavy smoke days—including frontline workers, K-4 students, and people living in vulnerable housing—and what percentage of the population qualifies for investments as part of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

Person-days are used to capture, together, the number of people and the amount of time spent under smoke plumes. When a smoke plume is observed over a population center, each person who lives there is considered to have experienced one smoke day. A person-day is a useful metric specifically because it incorporates people into descriptions of air quality. It helps to give an accounting of the potential impact of smoke by capturing the number of people and the amount of time people may have been exposed.

Frontline workers refers to those workers in outdoor occupations and often without indoor air filtration. The source for this data is the American Community Survey (ACS) (variable group C24050: Industry by Occupation for the Civilian Employed Population 16 Years and Over). Workers included in two occupations (“Natural resources, construction, and maintenance” and “Production, transportation, and material moving”) were counted as frontline workers.

K-4 students in poverty comes from the ACS 2019 five-year estimates for the number of K‒4 students enrolled in school and below the poverty line (variable group B14006).

Vulnerable housing data are sourced from the 2019 Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Households were included if they are renter-occupied or cost-burdened (>3-%) owner-occupied and built prior to 1980.

Community Reinvestment Act identifies low- and moderate-income communities, as well as distressed and underserved tracts as defined by the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council. It is intended to encourage depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.

Regional wildfire smoke snapshots

These snapshots describe wildfire smoke for metropolitan regions in the Twelfth Federal Reserve District.

Alaska

Arizona

California

Idaho

Nevada

Oregon

Utah

Washington

About the wildfire smoke report

Wildfires, which have increased in frequency, duration, and intensity, are measurably affecting populations across the entire country, including communities located far from fires. Wildfire smoke is a growing problem for groups that face greater economic barriers than the general population, such as low-income families, housing-vulnerable communities, and frontline workers. The report describes how wildfire smoke disrupts various sectors of the economy across the United States.

Get the full report, read key takeaways, and download the full dataset.