Up in Flames: The Toll of Wildfire Smoke

Amid yet another season of record-breaking wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere, a major study has measured wildfire smoke’s global toll: More than 33,000 deaths per year across 43 countries.
 
That includes 3,000+ respiratory-related deaths and almost 7,000 cardiovascular deaths, Environmental Health News reports.
 
The Lancet Planetary Health study is said to be the most comprehensive look so far at global wildfire mortality.

Wildfire smoke contains a “complex mixture” of pollutants. Among them, fine particulate matter—which can lodge deep into the lungs—is particularly dangerous, and the sort found in wildfire smoke is even more dangerous than particle pollution from other urban sources, the researchers warn.
 
Hardest-hit: Guatemala, Thailand, and Paraguay had the highest proportion of deaths related to wildfire smoke.
 
But even countries without frequent wildfires, like France and Germany, were still harmed by wildfire smoke, said lead author Yuming Guo of Monash University.
 
The findings should galvanize action, the authors warn: “Policy makers and public health professionals should raise awareness of wildfire pollution to guide prompt public responses and take actions to reduce exposure.”

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