Newswise — Colleen Reid, an assistant professor of geography with the University of Colorado Boulder is available to discuss the health hazards of smoke from the wildfires burning in California.
“We know for sure that smoke from wildfires exacerbates pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and there is also growing evidence that there is more all-cause mortality during wildfires,” said Reid, an environmental epidemiologist and medical geographer at the Institute of Behavioral Science.
Reid’s research has also shown that mothers-to-be who were exposed to wildfire smoke during a large 2003 California wildfire had slightly lower birthweight babies.
Exposure to wildfire smoke can also boost risk of ear infections and respiratory infections in children. While results have been mixed, some research suggests it can also boost heart attack risk, she said.
In a 2016 paper in Environmental Health Perspectives, Reid reviewed the literature to date about the health impacts of air pollution from wildfires, pointing to research showing that 339,000 premature deaths annually around the globe are attributed to wildfire smoke.