U.S. Deaths From Wildfire Smoke Could Double

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In a study simulating the effects of wildfire smoke on health, researchers found that increased wildfire activity in the United States could worsen air quality significantly in the years to come. They also speculate that deaths from chronic inhalation of wildfire smoke could rise from about 15,000 per year to more than 40,000 by the end of the century.

Wildfire smoke, which is made up of a mixture of gases and microscopic particles from burned material, can cause eye irritation and respiratory symptoms and worsen heart and lung diseases. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to smoke from wildfires is associated with premature death in people with chronic heart or lung problems, including aggravated asthma. Older adults and children are also at increased risk.

For this study, published in GeoHealth, researchers estimated the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality and health in the early-, mid-, and late-21st century under different climate scenarios using global climate model simulations. Although air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels is declining in the United States, wildfires are increasing in frequency and severity because of effects of climate change.

Sourced from: GeoHealth