American Lung Association Applauds Call for Increased Efforts to Safeguard People in the U.S. from Wildfires

Yesterday, the Biden Administration’s Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission released a report with recommendations for federal action to address the nation’s accelerated and climate-driven wildfire crisis. In response to this new report, the American Lung Association’s President and CEO, Harold Wimmer, issued the following statement:

“The commission’s report outlines a proactive approach to alleviate the devastating impacts of wildfires on human life, air quality and health. From Hawaii to the East Coast, people across America have experienced overwhelming reminders that there is not a second to spare when it comes to addressing the growing threat of catastrophic wildfires. 

“Climate change is fueling increasingly intense and destructive wildfires, putting more and more people’s health at risk of exposure to wildfire smoke and threatening decades of progress made toward cleaning the nation’s air. Policymakers at all levels of government must act with urgency to address today’s wildfires and prevent catastrophic wildfires in the future. 

“The Lung Association supports many of the report’s recommendations, including the call to increase funding for federal public health agencies to address the impacts of wildfire, as well as build state and local capacity to reduce the risk of wildfire smoke exposure. We are happy to see recommendations for improved air quality monitoring; increased investments in community outreach and preparedness to create ‘smoke-ready communities;’ and support for research into the physical, mental, and emotional impacts of wildfire on wildland firefighters and outdoor workers.

“The Commission made many references to the increased use of prescribed fire to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk. We appreciate that the commission's recommendations note the importance of increasing prescribed fire within the context of public health protection consistent with the Clean Air Act. The report is an important guide for coordinating wildfire prevention, response and recovery at all levels of government.”

A 2022 research review led by the American Lung Association found that responsible expanded use of prescribed fire can mitigate the negative air quality, health and safety impacts of uncontrolled, large-scale wildfires. The report showed that wildfire activity is predicted to increase in the decades ahead and that historical fire suppression policies are insufficient for longer-term fire management, deferring rather than mitigating the air quality and health burdens associated with smoke. While more research is needed to evaluate comparative risks of prescribed fire smoke and wildfire, the Lung Association supports the 

increased use of prescribed burns under the right conditions to mitigate the negative impacts of large-scale fires.

For resources on how individuals can protect themselves from wildfire smoke, visit Lung.org/Wildfire.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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