Office of Procedures, Records, and Forms Safety Policies and Procedures Manual

PUBLIC HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
6.56
Revised 4-21

For more information contact:
   Environmental Health and Safety
   509-335-3041

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Wildfire Smoke

Overview

Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particulates that can be harmful to the health of many individuals. This section outlines resources and guidance available to reduce the health impacts associated with wildfire smoke.

Scope

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) identifies people who are most likely to be affected by smoke. See the DOH Wildfire Smoke website.

The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) identifies sensitive groups and recommends precautions based upon Ecology air quality categories and measured respirable particulate concentrations (also known as PM 2.5). See the Washington Air Quality Advisory (WAQA) website.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI) measures air quality in the US including particulates found in wildfire smoke. The EPA classifies the AQI in six levels:

  • Good
  • Moderate
  • Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
  • Unhealthy
  • Very Unhealthy
  • Hazardous

To see the current AQI for Washington cities, see the AirNow website.

Responsibility

WSU students, employees, event participants, guests, and visitors are responsible for following University policies and procedures in this section and the associated Wildfire Smoke Program Document.

The program document provides guidance to reduce the health impacts associated with wildfire smoke. Obtain copies by selecting the Program Document link from the Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Wildfire Smoke website.

Colleges, Departments, Units

WSU campuses, colleges, departments, and/or units are responsible for incorporating procedures and guidelines to reduce wildfire smoke health impacts into unit-specific accident prevention programs (see SPPM 2.10). Refer to this policy and the Wildfire Smoke Program Document for specific procedures and guidelines.

WSU campuses, colleges, departments, and/or units are to work with Student Affairs—Access Center, Human Resource Services (HRS), or Compliance and Civil Rights (CCR) to evaluate what, if any, options or reasonable accommodations may be provided to self-identified sensitive individuals.

Responsible Individuals

For purposes of this section, the term “responsible individuals” includes, but is not limited to, professors, supervisors, coaches, and event hosts.

Resource Referrals

Responsible individuals should refer individuals who self-identify as susceptible to health issues from wildfire smoke exposure to the appropriate University resources:

Students
Student Affairs–Access Center; telephone 509-335-3417

Employees
Human Resource Services:
Pullman; telephone 509-335-4521
Spokane; telephone 509-358-7566
Tri-Cities; telephone 509-372-7302
Vancouver; telephone 360-546-9587

Visitors
Human Resource Services:
Pullman; telephone 509-335-4521
Spokane; telephone 509-358-7566
Tri-Cities; telephone 509-372-7302
Vancouver; telephone 360-546-9587

or

Compliance and Civil Rights (CCR); telephone 509-335-8288

Out-of-State Travel

When traveling out of Washington State, responsible individuals must monitor the local air quality for unsafe conditions. Refer to the Wildfire Smoke Program Document for useful air quality links regarding areas outside of Washington State.

Self-Identified Sensitive Individuals

Individuals in self-identified sensitive groups should limit time spent outdoors when Ecology’s air quality index is “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” or worse.

Individuals who are sensitive to wildfire/outdoor smoke or particulates are to work with the appropriate University resources to address options (see Resource Referrals).