The Long-Term Health Impacts of Wildfires

California. British Columbia. Australia. 2018 has been a banner year for wildfires, and the season is far from over. The steady rise in temperatures across the globe has created super-fires that last longer and spread further than they ever have before. It’s scary stuff.

As with any disaster, natural or otherwise, research and preparedness can often be the difference between life and death. Today, we explore the very real threat that wildfires pose to your health, your property, and your immediate surroundings. We’ll also present you with a couple of things that you can do right now to prepare yourself in case a wildfire hits too close to home.

Though I wish there wasn’t a need for an article like this, here we are. These are the long-term health impacts of wildfires and what you can do to protect you and your family against them.

Respiratory Difficulties

It may go without saying, but all the same, it bears repeating. A recent study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website has gone in-depth on the various health threats of living near the site of a wildfire.

Understandably, one of the main threats to the human population is one of air quality. According to the study, wildfire smoke consists of “particulate matter and gaseous products of combustion.” The smoke can dramatically impact the quality of the air in the areas surrounding the wildfire, and poses a few risks for the people living there.

Research suggests that, across the board, wildfires have an overwhelmingly negative effect on the lung function of all those within the affected area.

Alberto Guglielmi / Getty Images

Increased Mortality Rate Amongst Vulnerable Populations

As with any large-scale environmental catastrophe, those who are hurt the most are those who are already hurting. Patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are at an increased risk of mortality, as are young children, and smokers.

In short, smoke inhalation from a nearby wildfire can put a significant and long-term strain on the population’s lung-function as a whole. On a personal level, it’s dangerous. On a societal level, it can be a downright epidemic.

Claudiad / Getty Images
1 of 4