Air Quality & Health Impacts of Wildfire and Prescribed Fire

Climate change is increasing the likelihood of catastrophic wildfire. We support action to mitigate wildfire risk and protect communities from harmful smoke.

Wildfire smoke is harmful to health. One of the main pollutants found in wildfire smoke is particulate matter, or ‘soot,’ which can penetrate deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream. Exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with a number of health harms—ranging from respiratory and cardiovascular harm to adverse birth outcomes and even early death. 

Due to climate change and other factors, wildfires are projected to become more frequent and severe in the United States, posing a growing challenge for public health. 

Who Is Most at Risk from Wildfires?

Everyone's health is at risk from wildfire smoke, even healthy adults. But some groups may be particularly vulnerable and susceptible to wildfire smoke impacts, including children, older adults, pregnant people, those with underlying respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, outdoor workers, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations and people without homes. 

Wildfire burning on hill with houses in foreground.

What Can Be Done to Address the Growing Threat of Wildfire?

The Lung Association educates about ways to protect lung health before and during wildfire smoke events; engages in policy and advocacy work on the use of prescribed fire to mitigate catastrophic wildfires, and advocates for continued action to combat climate change.

Fact Sheet: What Is Prescribed Fire?

Download our fact sheet on “Prescribed Fire and Lung Health: What You Need to Know.”
Download Fact Sheet

Report: Can Prescribed Fires Mitigate Health Harm?

Read our research review that looked at the potential of prescribed fire to mitigate the air quality and health impacts of catastrophic wildfire.
Read the report

Disaster Resources: Wildfires

Resources on how individuals can protect themselves from wildfire smoke.
Get wildfire resources
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