Wildfires, Pollution and Public Health

A recent study by Climate Central found wildfires in the Western United States are undermining progress in reducing air pollution from tailpipes and industrial sources.  In analyzing air quality in two large California air basins, the independent research organization found the level of harmful particulate matter in the air consistently exceeded federal standards during the peak wildfire fire season.

Forest fires contain particulate matter that is linked to health problems such as asthma, heart disease and even premature birth — health effects significantly associated with poverty and income equality. According to the Centers for Disease Control, wildfire smoke is associated with increased emergency department visits and hospital stays for Americans suffering from breathing and heart problems.

These impacts are made clear in a report from Montana which found a 2.3 times increase in the number of people going to emergency departments for those respiratory-related issues

Catastrophic wildfire is not typically viewed as a public health concern, but this latest research should give Congress another reason to act.

Wildfires, Pollution and Public Health