Outdoor and Indoor Fine Particulate Matter at Skilled Nursing Facilities in the Western United States During Wildfire and Non-Wildfire Seasons

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Wildfire activity is increasing in parts of the world where extreme drought and warming temperatures contribute to fireprone conditions, including the western United States. The elderly are among the most vulnerable, and those in long-term care with preexisting conditions have added risk for adverse health outcomes from wildfire smoke exposure. In this study, we report continuous co-located indoor and outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements at four skilled nursing facilities in the western United States. Throughout the year 2020, over 8000 h of data were collected, which amounted to approximately 300 days of indoor and outdoor sampling at each facility. The highest indoor 24 h average PM2.5 recorded at each facility was 43.6 µg/m3, 103.2 µg/m3, 35.4 µg/m3, and 202.5 µg/m3, and these peaks occurred during the wildfire season. The indoor-to-outdoor PM2.5 ratio and calculated infiltration efficiencies indicated high variation in the impact of wildfire events on Indoor Air Quality between the four facilities. Notably, infiltration efficiency ranged from 0.22 to 0.76 across the four facilities. We propose that this variability is evidence that PM2.5 infiltration may be impacted by modifiable building characteristics and human behavioral factors, and this should be addressed in future studies.