Wildfire smoke effect on human health

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Study Shows Wildfires Emit Tiny Smoke Particles that are Detrimental to Human Health

Smoke particles from a wildfire can take a toll on your health…learn more…

Tuesday, 27th April 2021

New research has shown that exposure to wildfire smoke inversely affects the body's respiratory and cardiovascular systems almost immediately.

Last August and September, when scorching wildfires had painted the sky orange for days together in the San Francisco Bay Area and air quality had become a major cause of concern, Mary Prunicki, director of the air pollution and health research at Stanford University's Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, collected blood samples of firefighters for research and study.

Thousands of these firefighters had been spending months wrestling the blazes that engulfed more than 4 million acres of land and killed 31 people.

Prunicki is doing a close study of the effect that wildfire smoke has on human health. She along with other researchers has found that elevated levels of fine airborne particulate matters known as PM2.5, associated with wildfire are highly dangerous as, their dimension which is one-twentieth the width of a human hair, can be easily breathed into deep corners of the lungs.

Prunicki said, “The size of that particulate can, when you inhale it, go all the way to the base of your lungs and then cross over into your bloodstream, once it's in the bloodstream, it can go to various organs and do all kinds of damage.”

According to experts, climate change and continually rising temperatures will not only make such wildfires more common but also more intense and destructive, as was seen last year in California, Oregon, and Washington. They are also turning into year-long threats now that start early and last longer.

Said Tom Corringham, an environmental economist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, “In the climate science community, we've been predicting these types of impacts for decades now.”

It is believed to be several times more harmful than any other forms of air pollution, including car exhaust, although the reason is yet unknown. As per Prunicki, this could have something to do with the chemical composition of what is being burned, like chemicals in furniture, clothing, and other everyday items that it usually engulfs.

Studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have shown that firefighters are at higher risk of cancer and cancer-related deaths as opposed to the general population. Researchers however are still working on the reasons behind this and ways to protect them.

The News Talkie Bureau



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