Behind the Headlines: Wildfires and Lung Health
(June 29, 2017)
The American Lung Association joins the nation in its concern for the communities living near the more than 20 large wildfires burning in the western United States right now. The largest active wildfire, near Brian Head resort in Utah, forced the evacuations of more than 1,500 residents, destroyed 13 homes and charred at least 49,000 acres, as of the last week of June.
In addition to the devastating destruction, wildfires can also have deadly impacts on lung health. The risks to lung health occur not only where the fire is burning, but hundreds of miles away as well. The smoke immediately threatens nearby residents and first responders, and can spread far downwind to people who live far-removed from the blazes. It's important to know how to protect your lungs from the effects of wildfire smoke, especially with climate change making wildfires more frequent and severe in many places, including in the western states.
The Lung Association has information and resources to help you and your family stay healthy:
- Ways to Protect Yourself from Wildfire Smoke
- How Wildfires Affect Your Health
- Facts on Climate Change and Lung Health
Wildfires and particle pollution:
Our 2017 "State of the Air" report found that many cities experienced their highest number of short-term particle pollution spikes since the monitoring for this pollutant began in 2000-2002. Increased heat, changes in climate patterns, drought and wildfires—all related to climate change—contributed to the extraordinarily high number of days with unhealthy particulate pollution.
West On Fire: More Than 20 Wildfires Blazing In Utah, Arizona, California – The Weather Channel