October 26, 2017
Richard Peltier, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, recently wrote an article for the website The Conversation, an independent, non-profit source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the general public. In the piece, Peltier takes a look at the health risks smoke from wildfires pose to the public.
As forest fires rage in Northern California, the federal government grows concerned for all living in the region, calling it a public health emergency. Peltier explains “the concentrations of pollution in communities downwind of these fires are on par with what we see in rapidly growing cities such as Mumbai and Beijing. The longer you are exposed to pollutants from wood smoke, the higher the risk of developing smoke-related illnesses. Short-term exposures to intense smoke can lead to lung and cardiovascular problems in some people, especially if they are already susceptible to these diseases. Longer-term exposure over a few days or weeks increases the risk and the chance of health impacts as your cumulative dose increases.”
Update (12/7/2017): As The Thomas Fire rages in the greater Los Angeles area, a number of major media outlets have reprinted an updated version of Peltier's original article in The Conversation.