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    The Atlanta Incident: The Situation

    Downtown Atlanta is the site of several PM2.5 monitoring stations which at approximately 3:00 pm began recording high concentrations, in some cases over 150 μg/m3 (1-hr average). While a narrow plume affected some areas of the city and not others, over a million residents of Atlanta are estimated to have been potentially exposed to levels of particulate matter in exceedance of the EPA's 24-hr average 35 μg/m3 standard (Hu et al. 2008). Dr. Teague, a professor of pediatrics had the following to say when questioned about the conditions in Atlanta on the 28th: "This would be the kind of thing that could directly trigger asthma attacks, without question. A person with healthy lungs and no asthma, they're probably going to handle this." (Shelton and Ahmed 2007).

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    Immediate affects of the smoke also included reduced visibility which slowed traffic and increased risk to those driving in the area. Numerous inquiries from Atlanta residents were phoned in to county, state, and agency offices. As Shelton and Ahmed phrased it; "in short, residents called anyone whose numbers they could get their hands on."

    Due to numerous concurrent burns, and higher than anticipated emissions, a large number of people were exposed to high levels of smoke, causing poor visibility, compounding traffic, and potentially affecting health of area residents. Additionally, county, state, and federal offices were inundated with call from citizens who had not been informed of the burns taking place. These events demonstrate the importance of accurate fuel estimation, and informing the public of large burns which could potentially affect them.

    References:       

    Hu Y, Odman MT, Chang ME, Jackson W, Lee S, Edgerton ES, Baumann K, Russell AG. 2008. Simulation of Air Quality Impacts from  Prescribed Fires on an Urban Area. Environ. Sci. Technol. 42, 3676-3682.

    Shelton S, Ahmed S. 2007. Smoke Clouds in metro area. Article in 'The Atlanta Journal-Constitution' 02/28/2007.

     

     

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