Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess health-related responses to wild-
fire smoke on social media. We examined whether seasonal wildfire smoke is an active
topic on Twitter, the correlation between fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and Twit-
ter search terms, and dimensions of community-level expression to wildfire smoke
Design: Search terms were identified using a conceptual model developed and refined
by healthcare providers and public health experts.Wildfire-related tweets were down-
loaded from Twitter users in Spokane, Washington during the 2017 and 2018 wildfire
seasons. PM2.5 data were correlated with the search terms. A subset of tweets
was deductively and then inductively coded to identify perceptions and behavioral
responses to wildfire smoke.
Results: Seasonal wildfire smoke is an active topic on Twitter. The term “smoke” was
strongly correlated with poor air quality and “unhealthy” was moderately correlated.
Deductive analyses revealed a multidimensional response to wildfire smoke. Inductive
analysis identified new areas of concern, such as pet and animal health.
Conclusions: Social media is a lens through which public health professionals can
assess and respond to local community needs. Findings will be used to broaden the con-
ceptual model, enhance ongoing surveillance of community-identified health risks, and
communicate protective actions.
particulate matter, public health, risk reduction, social media
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