Smoke in the Great Plains, USA: an increasing phenomenon with potential policy and health implications

Heath D. Starns, Douglas R. Tolleson, Robert J. Agnew, Elijah G. Schnitzler, John R. Weir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent decades, as wildland fire occurrence has increased in the United States, concern about the emissions produced by wildland fires has increased as well. This growing concern is evidenced by an increase in scientific articles investigating effects of wildland smoke on public health, and ongoing research projects assessing wildland smoke hazards. We reviewed primary literature evaluating wildland smoke in the United States and determined that the vast majority of available literature addresses the northwestern and southeastern US. We discovered that a significant knowledge gap exists for the Great Plains, a region where wildfire and prescribed fire occur frequently. In this region, wildfire and prescribed fire are important economically, ecologically, and culturally. Given the paucity of data regarding emissions from Great Plains fuels and the increase in fire occurrence in the region, we suggest that more active research is needed to fill this gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalFire Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • air quality
  • biomass burning
  • carbon dioxide
  • emissions
  • grasslands
  • ozone
  • prescribed fire
  • public health
  • rangelands
  • wildland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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