Category Archives: Dan Jaffe

A new age of wildfires

wildire in Pacific Northwest

Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington.

A new article on the University of Washington website looks at the growing severity of wildfires and the broad research that the university is doing on their impacts. The article highlights the work that we do on wildfires’ effects on air quality. Also featured is the Joel Thornton lab at UW Seattle and the work of other UW researchers who study wildfires and forests.

Faculty and students install instruments at Mt. Bachelor Observatory.

Claire Buysse and Dan Jaffe set up radiometers to measure UV light on the top of Mt. Bachelor Observatory, August 2019. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington.

In the summer of 2019, UW photographer Mark Stone visited Mt. Bachelor Observatory, as well as other research sites, and captured the UW’s research in stunning photographs.

Read the article.

Mt. Bachelor Observatory

Mt. Bachelor Observatory research site at the top of Mt. Bachelor, Bend, Oregon, August 2019. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington.

The “smoke apocalypse” and indoor air quality: Media reports with Dan Jaffe

In September, Seattle and the Puget Sound region recorded the worst air quality ever. For example, in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle it was 314 on the air quality index on September 17. During our area’s recent smoke apocalypse, Dr. Dan Jaffe has been a frequent media guest. He has been interviewed by the Seattle Times, Crosscut, KIRO7, KOMONews, KOMOAM, KING5, and Q13Fox. Dan discussed his work on indoor air quality during the wildfire season and showed how to make a very effective DIY air purifier using a box fan and a MERV 13 furnace filter.

See links to all of the articles and videos along with descriptions

How effective is your face mask?*

*Fit means more than fabric.

Have you wondered how effective your cloth mask is in protecting you from the COVID-19 corona virus?  We wondered that too, and this led to our newest research project—studying the effectiveness of cloth face masks. Shahbaz Qureshi, a 2020 UWB Biochemistry graduate, and Praphulla Boggarapu Chandra, postdoctoral researcher, have been working with Dr. Dan Jaffe on testing mask effectiveness. Their research was featured on KIRO 7 news, where Dan Jaffe was interviewed by reporter Jessica Oh.

Shahbaz Qureshi doing mask research

Shahbaz Qureshi adjusts a cloth mask on a mannequin head in an experiment testing the mask’s effectiveness. Photo credit: Marc Studer.

The preliminary research results show that for filtration, fit is more important than the mask material: Tight-fitting masks were twice as efficient in stopping aerosol particles as looser masks. “All masks reduce the particulate—the aerosols you’re putting out in the world and the aerosols you’re breathing in—both ways to some degree,” Jaffe said. “If you wear it properly and you have a tight-fitting mask, it reduces it a lot more.” Dr. Jaffe also plans to present the mask problem to his Quantitative Environmental Analysis class in the upcoming Autumn quarter. “Students will for themselves see: How good is my mask, and how important is the fit?”

Watch the KIRO7 news video on the mask research

Read more about the mask research on the UW Bothell News page

New critical review of wildland fire impacts on air quality

Dr. Dan Jaffe is the lead author on a critical review that examines the processes that influence wildfires and prescribed fires and their effects on air quality in the U.S. This review, “Wildfire and prescribed burning impacts on air quality in the United States,” is published in the June issue of the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. This paper is the result of a collaboration between Dan Jaffe and Susan O’Neill, Narasimhan Larkin, Amara Holder, David Peterson, Jessica Halofsky, and Ana Rappold. These coauthors have brought their range of expertise to the issues related to wildland fires and have examined each of the processes influencing these fires and also the effects of the fires, “including the natural role of wildland fire, forest management, ignitions, emissions, transport, chemistry, and human health impacts.”

Large wildfires in the U.S. are becoming more common, and their emissions of particulate matter (PM) and gaseous compounds negatively impact air quality and human health. The air quality trend in the U.S. has been improving in the last decades. However, seasonal wildfires threaten to undermine this progress in parts of the country. The area burned by wildland fires has grown significantly in the last few decades due to “past forest management practices, climate change, and other human factors.” This has resulted in millions of people experiencing high levels of air pollution. As cities and towns have spread further into wildlands, costs for fire suppression (to protect human developments) and the consequences of fires have increased significantly.

U.S. wildire area burned and federal suppression costs for 1985-2018

Total U.S. wildfire area burned (ha) and federal suppression costs for 1985–2018 scaled to constant (2016) U.S. dollars. Trends for both wildfire area burned and suppression indicate about a four-fold increase over a 30-year period. Data source: National Interagency Fire Center, Fire Information Statistics, accessed December 2, 2019. https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_statistics.html.

In this review, Dr. Jaffe and his coauthors describe the current state of the research and identify key data gaps. Their goal is to identify areas that are well understood and areas that need more research. They recommend eight specific areas for future research.

Read the paper here

Free paper eprints available here

Dan Jaffe selected as subject matter expert for EPA pool reviewing PM and O3 standards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected Dan Jaffe as one of 12 subject matter experts supporting the Chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASC) in its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3).  The pool of experts will provide technical expertise to the CASC as it reviews the US EPA’s NAAQS. The CASC will in turn provide the EPA administrator with independent advice on the technical basis for the NAAQS.

“This appointment represents an opportunity to use my scientific expertise to support the EPA’s decision-making,” Jaffe said. “The long-term goal should be that our environmental laws, rules and regulations be based on the best available science and be designed to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.”

Read the news release by the EPA

Read a news release by UW Bothell