Studies have shown that local wildfire smoke is associated with increased hospitalizations for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and some cardiovascular health outcomes. However, less is known about how harmful smoke is as it travels and becomes long-range smoke.
For the study Differential Cardiopulmonary Health Impacts of Local and Long-Range Transport of Wildfire Smoke, researchers separated out health effects of local wildfire smoke from the health effects of long-range smoke. The team found that long-range smoke was associated with increases in hospitalizations and increased risk of death from cardiovascular outcomes.
The research team believes that evacuation efforts and media coverage of wildfires may have helped protect local residents from not only the direct impacts of the fires but also adverse health effects of smoke exposure. Extending this messaging to reach people affected by long-range smoke could be helpful.
Over the last 5 years, new technologies and better measurements of real-time smoke effects have enhanced air quality monitoring networks. Researchers are collaborating with local government officials on messaging related to the different types of wildfire smoke, with a specific aim to reach the most vulnerable populations.