Christine Olsen, Eric L. Toman, Stacey S. Frederick
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fuel Treatments & Effects
Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Smoke & Air Quality
Smoke & Populations

NRFSN number: 20884
FRAMES RCS number: 23750
Record updated: April 9, 2021

The increase in area burned by wildfire has simultaneously brought increased concern about smoke impacts, both from wildfires and fires intentionally set to manage landscapes. Public concern about the potential health and other impacts of smoke can cause apprehension among managers who are considering prescribed burns, some to the point that they choose not to burn. Yet, very little is known about public acceptance of smoke. Using results from public surveys in four states, this paper explores the factors that influence public acceptance of smoke from six types of fire (wildfire, prescribed fire, agricultural burns, managed fire, pile burns and burns on private lands) as well as aggregate acceptance across all fire types. Overall, the public is generally accepting of smoke, particularly for fire types that are either viewed as uncontrollable (wildfire) or providing benefits to broader society rather than individuals. However, a sizable minority does not accept smoke. Factors that influence acceptance of smoke vary by fire type, but several coincided for multiple types of fire, including both health and non-health related risk, confidence in managing agencies, beliefs about benefits of prescribed fire use and rural living, among others. Prior experience with negative health impacts from smoke only influenced acceptance for agricultural burns.


Olsen CS, Toman EL, and Frederick SS. 2017. A multi-region analysis of factors that influence public acceptance of smoke from different fire sources. International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(5):364-374.

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