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After a wildfire, hazards remain. Residents returning to their homes may be at risk from falling fire-weakened trees. Humans and pets may also be harmed by falling into ash pits. Firefighters are at the greatest risk for acute and chronic health effects resulting from wildfire smoke exposure. Due to firefighters' occupational duties, they are frequently exposed to hazardous chemicals at a close proximity for longer periods of time. The study obtained exposure concentrations for one wildland firefighter over a hour shift spent holding down a fireline.

The firefighter was exposed to a wide range of carbon monoxide and respiratory irritant combination of particulate matter 3. Carbon monoxide levels reached up to ppm and the TLV irritant index value reached a high of Between and , over fatalities occurred among wildland firefighters. In addition to heat and chemical hazards, firefighters are also at risk for electrocution from power lines; injuries from equipment; slips, trips, and falls ; injuries from vehicle rollovers; heat-related illness ; insect bites and stings ; stress ; and rhabdomyolysis.

Residents in communities surrounding wildfires are exposed to lower concentrations of chemicals, but they are at a greater risk for indirect exposure through water or soil contamination. Exposure to residents is greatly dependent on individual susceptibility. Vulnerable persons such as children ages 0—4 , the elderly ages 65 and older , smokers, and pregnant women are at an increased risk due to their already compromised body systems, even when the exposures are present at low chemical concentrations and for relatively short exposure periods.

Wildfires affect large numbers of people in Western Canada and the United States. In California alone more than , people live in towns and cities in "very high fire hazard severity zones". Additionally, there is evidence of an increase in maternal stress, as documented by researchers M.

O'Donnell and A.

Book Review: “Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West” by Gary Ferguson - treesource

Behie, thus affecting birth outcomes. In Australia, studies show that male infants born with drastically higher average birth weights were born in mostly severely fire-affected areas. This is attributed to the fact that maternal signals directly affect fetal growth patterns. Asthma is one of the most common chronic disease among children in the United States affecting estimated 6.

Several pathophysiology processes are involved are in this. In human's considerable airway development occurs during the 2nd and 3rd trimester and continue until 3 years of age. Exposure to air pollution during parental and pre-natal stage could induce epigenetic changes which are responsible for the development of asthma. Living in distressed neighborhood is not only linked to pollutant source location and exposure but can also be associated with degree of magnitude of chronic individual stress which can in turn alter the allostatic load of the maternal immune system leading to adverse outcomes in children, including increased susceptibility to air pollution and other hazards.

Wildfire smoke contains particulate matter that may have adverse effects upon the human respiratory system. Evidence of the health effects of wildfire smoke should be relayed to the public so that exposure may be limited. Evidence of health effects can also be used to influence policy to promote positive health outcomes. Inhalation of smoke from a wildfire can be a health hazard. The principal health concern is the inhalation of particulate matter and carbon monoxide.

Particulate matter PM is a type of air pollution made up of particles of dust and liquid droplets. They are characterized into three categories based on the diameter of the particle: coarse PM, fine PM, and ultrafine PM. Coarse particles are between 2. Each size can enter the body through inhalation, but the PM impact on the body varies by size. Coarse particles are filtered by the upper airways and these particles can accumulate and cause pulmonary inflammation.

This can result in eye and sinus irritation as well as sore throat and coughing. Smaller particulate moves further into the respiratory system creating issues deep into the lungs and the bloodstream. These particulates also cause apoptosis and autophagy in lung epithelial cells.

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Both processes cause the cells to be damaged and impacts the cell function. This damage impacts those with respiratory conditions such as asthma where the lung tissues and function are already compromised. UFP can enter the bloodstream like PM 2. The inflammation and epithelial damage done by UFP has also shown to be much more severe. The illnesses most commonly with exposure to fine particle from wildfire smoke are bronchitis, exacerbation of asthma or COPD, and pneumonia.

Symptoms of these complications include wheezing and shortness of breath and cardiovascular symptoms include chest pain, rapid heart rate and fatigue. Smoke from wildfires can cause health problems, especially for children and those who already have respiratory problems.

An observational study of smoke exposure related to the San Diego wildfires revealed an increase both in healthcare utilization and respiratory diagnoses, especially asthma among the group sampled.


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Although some studies demonstrated no significant acute changes in lung function among people with asthma related to PM from wildfires, a possible explanation for these counterintuitive findings is the increased use of quick-relief medications , such as inhalers, in response to elevated levels of smoke among those already diagnosed with asthma. There is consistent evidence between wildfire smoke and the exacerbation of asthma. Carbon monoxide CO is a colorless, odorless gas that can be found at the highest concentration at close proximity to a smoldering fire. For this reason, carbon monoxide inhalation is a serious threat to the health of wildfire firefighters.

CO in smoke can be inhaled into the lungs where it is absorbed into the bloodstream and reduces oxygen delivery to the body's vital organs. At high concentrations, it can cause headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, nausea, disorientation, visual impairment, coma and even death. However, even at lower concentrations, such as those found at wildfires, individuals with cardiovascular disease may experience chest pain and cardiac arrhythmia. Another important and somewhat less obvious health effect of wildfires is psychiatric diseases and disorders.

Both adults and children from countries ranging from the United States and Canada to Greece and Australia who were directly and indirectly affected by wildfires were found by researchers to demonstrate several different mental conditions linked to their experience with the wildfires. These include post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD , depression , anxiety, and phobias. In a new twist to wildfire health effects, former uranium mining sites were burned over in the summer of near North Fork, Idaho. This prompted concern from area residents and Idaho State Department of Environmental Quality officials over the potential spread of radiation in the resultant smoke, since those sites had never been completely cleaned up from radioactive remains.

The western US has seen an increase in both frequency and intensity of wildfires over the last several decades. This increase has been attributed to the arid climate of the western US and the effects of global warming. An estimated 46 million people were exposed to wildfire smoke from to in the Western United States. Evidence has demonstrated that wildfire smoke can increase levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere.

The EPA has defined acceptable concentrations of particulate matter in the air, through the National Ambient Air Quality Standards and monitoring of ambient air quality has been mandated. The EPA has defined acceptable concentrations of particulate matter in the air. The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are part of the Clean Air Act and provide mandated guidelines for pollutant levels and the monitoring of ambient air quality. Such studies have demonstrated an association between negative human health effects and an increase in fine particulate matter due to wildfire smoke.

The size of the particulate matter is significant as smaller particulate matter fine is easily inhaled into the human respiratory tract. Often, small particulate matter can be inhaled into deep lung tissue causing respiratory distress, illness, or disease. Children participating in the Children's Health Study were also found to have an increase in eye and respiratory symptoms, medication use and physician visits. Suggesting that pregnant women may also be at greater risk to adverse effects from wildfire.

While the size of particulate matter is an important consideration for health effects, the chemical composition of particulate matter PM 2.

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Antecedent studies have demonstrated that the chemical composition of PM 2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about outdoor fires. For other uses, see Wildfire disambiguation. For other uses, see Brushfire disambiguation. Play media.

go site UC Irvine scientist James Randerson discusses new research linking ocean temperatures and fire-season severity. See also: Combustion , Fire control , Extreme weather , and Firestorm. Main article: Fire ecology. See also: Disturbance ecology and Forestry.

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Main article: Fire adaptations. Further information: Fossil record of fire. See also: Fire protection. See also: Remote sensing. Main article: Wildfire suppression. See also: Firefighting. Main article: Wildfire modeling. See also: Atmospheric particulate matter. Main article: Carbon monoxide poisoning. Cambridge University Press. Archived from the original on 13 August BBC Earth. Archived from the original on 16 October Retrieved 13 February Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Retrieved 16 August Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bibcode : PNAS.. Bibcode : Sci Amiro; K. Logan; B. Wotton Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Archived from the original PDF on 25 March Retrieved 26 June Archived from the original on 1 January Retrieved 22 August Ecological Applications. NOVA online.