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   More Information on Air Pollution and Wildfires

What is Purple Air?


Purple Air monitor

The Purple Air monitor at HHSB

Purple Air is a low-cost (~$250) air pollution sensor that measures particulate matter, temperature, and relative humidity. Particulate matter concentrations are measured by a PMS sensor like the one below using laser light scattering technology.


Plantower sensor diagram

A diagram of the PMS sensor used in the Purple Air monitor. From Figure 1 of Sayahi et al., 2019

What is particle pollution?


A diagram of different sizes of particulate matter.

Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or aerosols are suspended units of conglomerated solid and/or liquid material in the air.


Sources of particulate matter on campus may include:

      • Vehicle exhaust
      • Cigarette and vape smoke
      • Construction dust
      • Pollen
      • Cooking emissions
      • Wood burning stoves
      • Prescribed burn and wildfire smoke
      • Reactions in the atmosphere from gases released from trees (called secondary organic aerosol)

Click the button below to learn more.


More About Local Wildfires

Wildfires can affect the quality of our environmental health through:

  • unhealthy air pollutants
  • water contamination

Climate change is a large contributing factor to recent wildfires. The change in our climate is leading to increased heat, extended droughts, and a lack of moisture in out atmosphere which in turn is causing an increase of wildfires and how extreme they are. 

Click the buttons below to learn more about wildfires burning localy, in Western North Carolina, and across the United States and how they can affect the air quality.

Photo via U.S. Forestry Service: Wildfire in Cherokee County, NC

Collett Ridge Fire

Photo via U.S. Foresty Service/NC Forest Service: October 23, 2023, from the Collett Ridge Fire in the Nantahala National Forest