With the resurgence of forest fires, patients with lung diseases suffer the most serious consequences. Currently, a new study led by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) revealed that at least 3 million asthmatics in the United States suffer from particulate matter from the fires in Canada and the western United States.
According to Zhixin (May) Xue, one of the researchers participating in the study, "more than half of the US states. In the United States, especially the western U.S. have experienced a significant increase in short-term pollution from forest fires". This statement is contrasted with the data obtained in the research, which shows how the affected states report an increase of more than 100% in the values of inhalable particles.
The implications of the study
For this study, UAH researchers used data from the Center for Disease Control, which allowed them to determine that the most affected states are Washington, California, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Oregon. In addition, "satellite images were used that contain all the information of the atmospheric layer together with meteorological data", says Xue, who also explains that "a significant part of this pollution is due to the fires that occur in Canada".
Throughout the research, the authors also highlight other studies conducted between 2013 and 2016, which revealed that more than 76% of Canadians and 69% of Americans were affected during that period by the smoke from forest fires.
A great reason to act
According to the UAH, a single forest fire in 2018 caused 52% of residents in the U.S. and Canada to be exposed to particulate matter.
As Xue points out, this should be a concern for global health. "Exposure to smoke from forest fires can cause small particles to lodge in the lungs, which can lead to exacerbations of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis, heart disease, and pneumonia," Xue explains.
It is now known that smoke pollution from forest fires causes massive economic costs, loss of labor productivity, and numerous impacts on the quality of life and resources as important as water. However, according to the researchers, "the forest fires in the U.S. . and Canada have become the new normal", which degrades the air quality and severely harms patients with lung diseases, who are part of more than 8% of the inhabitants in these countries.
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