Critical Review of Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke Exposure
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to assess the evidence of health effects from exposure to wildfire smoke and to identify susceptible populations.
METHODS: We reviewed the scientific literature for studies of wildfire smoke exposure on mortality and on respiratory, cardiovascular, mental, and perinatal health. Within those reviewed papers deemed to have minimal risk of bias, we assessed the coherence and consistency of findings.
DISCUSSION: Consistent evidence documents associations between wildfire smoke exposure and general respiratory health effects, specifically exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Growing evidence suggests associations with increased risk of respiratory infections and all-cause mortality. Evidence for cardiovascular effects is mixed, but a few recent studies have reported associations for specific cardiovascular endpoints. Insufficient research exists to identify specific population subgroups that are more susceptible to wildfire smoke exposure.
CONCLUSIONS: Consistent evidence from a large number of studies indicates that wildfire smoke exposure is associated with respiratory morbidity with growing evidence supporting an association with all-cause mortality. More research is needed to clarify which causes of mortality may be associated with wildfire smoke, whether cardiovascular outcomes are associated with wildfire smoke, and if certain populations are more susceptible.
Australian Research Council
British Columbia Government
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
New South Wales Environment Protection Agency
Tasmania Fire Service
Publication titleEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Department/SchoolMenzies Institute for Medical Research
PublisherUS Dept Health & Human Services
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementPublic domain 'Reproduced with permission from Environmental Health Perspectives'