As wildfires continue to destroy parts of America, health experts have warned the public about the dangerous levels of air pollution.
From January 1 wildfires have been ravaged huge parts of America, to date, there have over 41,000 wildfires destroying an estimated 4.7 million acres of land.
Not only do these wildfires pose an imminent risk to those in the area, but they also pose a long-term health risk in the form of air pollution.
Carried with the smoke released from the wildfires is particulate matter (PM2.5) – this is one of the most dangerous air pollutants to human health.
Wildfire smoke can hang in the atmosphere for days, weeks or even months and it can travel vast distances, posing a huge health risk to huge areas of the population.
Every single year air pollution from forest fires is estimated to cause more than 300,000 premature deaths across the world.
In 2019, the Australian bushfires led to a 34% increase in breathing-related hospital admissions and researchers estimated that the smoke from the fires killed 12 times more people than the fires themselves.
Frances MacGuire, science and policy lead for the Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) said: ‘It is clear that the US wildfires are one of the new faces of the climate crisis.
‘Emergency services are doing an amazing job battling the fires, but the toxic air pollution generated by the fires is also a health hazard and a problem which must not be ignored.
‘The Global Climate and Health Alliance calls on governments around the world to address climate change and reduce the health impacts of forest fires and smoke pollution.
‘Governments and industry must take systemic action on climate change. Meanwhile, clinicians should be talking with their high-risk patients about how to protect themselves from wildfire smoke.’
In related news, in January this year, Air Quality News reported on the Australian forest fires outlining the implications for air pollution.
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