Non-Accidental Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke
Wildfires take a heavy toll on human health worldwide. Climate change may increase the risk of wildfire frequency. Therefore, in view of adapted preventive actions, there is an urgent need to further understand the health effects and public awareness of wildfires. We conducted a systematic review of non-accidental health impacts of wildfire and incorporated lessons learned from recent experiences. Based on the literature, various studies have established the relationship between one of the major components of wildfire, particulate matter (particles with diameter less than 10 µm (PM10) and less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5)) and cardiorespiratory symptoms in terms of Emergency Rooms visits and hospital admissions. Associations between wildfire emissions and various subclinical effects have also been established. However, few relationships between wildfire emissions and mortality have been observed. Certain segments of the population may be particularly vulnerable to smoke-related health risks. Among them, people with pre-existing cardiopulmonary conditions, the elderly, smokers and, for professional reasons, firefighters. Potential action mechanisms have been highlighted. Overall, more research is needed to better understand health impact of wildfire exposure.
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