A new study reveals some shocking details of the global impact of wildfire-related pollution and mortality rate. According to researchers, some wildfire fine particles in the air can cause cardiovascular and respiratory deaths across many regions worldwide.
Here is what you need to know.
How Much Wildfires Affect Us
A team of researchers examined data of over 65.6 million deaths, from all causes, in 43 countries and regions, in 749 cities. The findings are genuinely intriguing.
Researchers analyzed information from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2016, looking for wildfire-related fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations.
What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 is one of the most concerning fine particulate matters that can end up in our lungs, across the alveoli in the lung walls, and then right into circulation.
PM2 is even more toxic because it is smaller and it is related to high temperatures.
The team discovered more than 33,500 deaths occur annually due to wildfire smoke. The results include:
- the US: almost 3200 annual deaths in 210 cities;
- Japan: over 7000 annual deaths in 47 cities;
- China: over 1200 in 15 cities;
- South Africa: over 5200 in 52 cities;
- Mexico: over 3000 in 10 cities;
- Thailand: almost 5300 in 62 cities.
Recently, the wildfires brought some much havoc, from more than 1.2 million scorched hectares across California since the beginning of 2019, the 45 million acres burnt during Australia’s 2019-2020 fire season, to the record of over 190 wildfires across Siberia.
That makes up more than the rest of Earth’s wildfires combined. And that’s not all.
According to previous data, the pollution from wildfire smoke can spread up to 100 kilometers away. Also, the risk of wildfires can trigger climate change a lot.
What Should We Do
The mortality data was released by the Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) Collaborative Study. Researchers used machine learning, grounds monitors’ measurements of PM2.5, outputs of chemical transport model, and weather data.
Now, the researchers urge public health professionals and policymakers to support their work, raise awareness of wildfire pollution, and take actions to lower the exposure.