While conventional wildfires are fueled by burning of vegetation, fires in the WUI are fueled by vegetation and fuels from the built environment, such as homes, cars and other human-made structures. The interaction of these 2 types of fires can lead to public health effects that are unique to WUI fires.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) published a consensus study report – The Chemistry of Fires at the Wildland-Urban Interface – to address the public health impacts of WUI fires.
The study reviews aspects of the science of WUI fires, including:
- History of WUI fires and defining characteristics.
- The materials, combustion and emissions present at WUI fires.
- The atmospheric transport and chemical transformations of WUI fire emissions over time.
- Pollutants of concern for human exposure.
- Methods for collecting data on WUI fires.
The study also makes 2 global recommendations to fill critical data gaps and help inform decision-makers charged with mitigating wildfire impacts on the general public:
- Establishment of an integrated, multi-disciplinary research agenda for improving understanding of the chemistry, exposures and health impacts of toxicants resulting from WUI fires.
- Development of tools, resources and messaging designed to inform a wide variety of decision-makers charged with mitigating wildland and WUI fire impacts.