Science Inventory

Climate Change, Wildland Fires and Public Health

Citation:

Cascio, W. Climate Change, Wildland Fires and Public Health. American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 12 - 16, 2016.

Impact/Purpose:

The public health community has an opportunity to contribute to the broader national effort to mitigate climate change and wildland fire risk by working closely with the healthcare community to facilitate adaptive responses to climate change.

Description:

Climate change is contributing to an increase in the severity of wildland fires. The annual acreage burned in the U.S. has risen steadily since 1985, and the fire season has lengthened. Wildland fires impair air quality by producing massive quantities of particulate air pollutants and ozone precursors. Together particles and ozone exposures increase the risk of premature death and acute and chronic cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity among vulnerable individuals. Future wildfires are predicted to be larger, more severe and more frequent in some regions of the U.S and will contribute to an even greater proportion of the ambient air pollution, the disease burden and healthcare costs.While the projected magnitude of the public health impact of climate change-related wildfire events is uncertain, it is clear that the proportion of the U.S. population vulnerable to the adverse health effects of wildland fire and its smoke is increasing. An aging population with chronic respiratory diseases and increasing obesity and diabetes that heralds more cardiovascular disease will increase the vulnerability of the population to the adverse effects of wildfire smoke and associated stressors. Additionally, physiological changes attendant to aging decrease the capacity of aged-adults to tolerate wildfire smoke, heat, humidity, evacuation and recovery. Expansion of our cities into the wildland-urban interface is also placing a greater proportion of the population in closer proximity to wildland fire emissions with its associated health risks. The public health community has an opportunity to contribute to the broader national effort to mitigate climate change and wildland fire risk by working closely with the healthcare community to facilitate adaptive responses to climate change. Adaptation will increase the resilience of individuals and their communities and is anticipated to help mitigate the adverse health effects of wildland fire. This abstract does not reflect USEPA policy.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/ABSTRACT)
Product Published Date: 12/12/2016
Record Last Revised: 12/21/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 334221

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH DIVISION