Smoke from wildfires is a growing health risk across the US. Understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of such exposure and its population health impacts requires separating smoke-driven pollutants from non-smoke pollutants and a long time series to quantify patterns and measure health impacts. We develop a parsimonious and accurate machine learning model of daily wildfire-driven PM2.5 concentrations using a combination of ground, satellite, and reanalysis data sources that are easy to update. We apply our model across the contiguous US from 2006 to 2020, generating daily estimates of smoke PM2.5 over a 10 km-by-10 km grid and use these data to characterize levels and trends in smoke PM2.5. Smoke contributions to daily PM2.5 concentrations have increased by up to 5 μg/m3 in the Western US over the last decade, reversing decades of policy-driven improvements in overall air quality, with concentrations growing fastest for higher income populations and predominantly Hispanic populations. The number of people in locations with at least 1 day of smoke PM2.5 above 100 μg/m3 per year has increased 27-fold over the last decade, including nearly 25 million people in 2020 alone. Our data set can bolster efforts to comprehensively understand the drivers and societal impacts of trends and extremes in wildfire smoke.
Keywords: aerosols; machine learning; particulate matter; smoke; wildfires.