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Monday, June 24, 2024

American and Canadian Lung Associations Collaborate Across International Borders to Reduce Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke

Fueled by the increasing effects of climate change, wildfire smoke has a significant and growing impact on air quality and lung health. To reduce lung health harm, the American Lung Association and Canadian Lung Association are collaborating to raise awareness about the health impacts of wildfire smoke and educate people on how to protect themselves. Both organizations are also advocating for ways to mitigate catastrophic wildfires.

Canada and the United States are increasingly experiencing devastating wildfires and wildfire smoke events. 2023 was the worst year ever for wildfires in Canada, and parts of the U.S. that hadn’t previously experienced severe wildfires and wildfire smoke – including Hawaii, the Midwest and Eastern states – were significantly impacted. The trend of more frequent and intense wildfires is largely driven by climate change. Rising temperatures and changing precipitation patterns contribute to longer and more severe droughts, helping create ideal conditions for wildfires to ignite and spread.

Wildfire smoke is unhealthy for everyone to breathe, but some groups are at greater risk. Wildfire smoke can exacerbate symptoms in people living with lung disease and underlying health conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Other groups who may face higher risk of health harms include Black and indigenous individuals and people of color (BIPOC), children, older adults, people experiencing poverty, individuals who are pregnant and outdoor workers.

“For years, people living in the Western U.S. have suffered dangerous air pollution from wildfire smoke. Last year’s severe wildfires and smoke were a wake-up call for people in many other parts of the country. Smoke, air pollution and climate change are global issues that don’t care about international borders. The American Lung Association’s collaboration with the Canadian Lung Association will help address the urgent need to improve lung health in the face of the changing climate,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association.

“Last year’s wildfires really brought this issue to people across Canada no matter where they lived, and projected high temperatures again this year are putting us at risk for another significant season,” says Sarah Butson, CEO of the Canadian Lung Association. “It’s very meaningful for our two organizations to come together to focus on this issue. As national lung health organizations, it’s important that we raise awareness about the risks of wildfire smoke and help the public protect their lungs as much as possible. It really is something that can affect all of us on both sides of the border.”

Wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles across international borders and impact the health of anyone who breathes it. Exposure to wildfire smoke poses serious health hazards. The smoke contains tiny particles – some are so tiny that they can travel deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream. This particle pollution from wildfire smoke can worsen chronic lung disease symptoms and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes that can be lethal. Depending on what is burning, wildfire smoke can also contain additional harmful components. For example, smoke from wildfires that burn houses and vehicles can contain lead and other metals and pollutants.

The American Lung Association and the Canadian Lung Association are collaborating to raise awareness about the health harm of wildfire smoke, educate people on how to protect themselves, and advocate for ways to mitigate catastrophic wildfires.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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