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      Wildfire smoke impacts respiratory health more than fine particles from other sources: observational evidence from Southern California

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          Abstract

          Wildfires are becoming more frequent and destructive in a changing climate. Fine particulate matter, PM 2.5, in wildfire smoke adversely impacts human health. Recent toxicological studies suggest that wildfire particulate matter may be more toxic than equal doses of ambient PM 2.5. Air quality regulations however assume that the toxicity of PM 2.5 does not vary across different sources of emission. Assessing whether PM 2.5 from wildfires is more or less harmful than PM 2.5 from other sources is a pressing public health concern. Here, we isolate the wildfire-specific PM 2.5 using a series of statistical approaches and exposure definitions. We found increases in respiratory hospitalizations ranging from 1.3 to up to 10% with a 10 μg m −3 increase in wildfire-specific PM 2.5, compared to 0.67 to 1.3% associated with non-wildfire PM 2.5. Our conclusions point to the need for air quality policies to consider the variability in PM 2.5 impacts on human health according to the sources of emission.

          Abstract

          Recent toxicological studies suggest that wildfire particulate matter may be more toxic than equal doses of ambient PM 2.5. Here, the authors show that even for similar exposure levels, PM 2.5 from wildfires is considerably more dangerous for respiratory health at the population level.

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          Woodsmoke health effects: a review.

          The sentiment that woodsmoke, being a natural substance, must be benign to humans is still sometimes heard. It is now well established, however, that wood-burning stoves and fireplaces as well as wildland and agricultural fires emit significant quantities of known health-damaging pollutants, including several carcinogenic compounds. Two of the principal gaseous pollutants in woodsmoke, CO and NOx, add to the atmospheric levels of these regulated gases emitted by other combustion sources. Health impacts of exposures to these gases and some of the other woodsmoke constituents (e.g., benzene) are well characterized in thousands of publications. As these gases are indistinguishable no matter where they come from, there is no urgent need to examine their particular health implications in woodsmoke. With this as the backdrop, this review approaches the issue of why woodsmoke may be a special case requiring separate health evaluation through two questions. The first question we address is whether woodsmoke should be regulated and/or managed separately, even though some of its separate constituents are already regulated in many jurisdictions. The second question we address is whether woodsmoke particles pose different levels of risk than other ambient particles of similar size. To address these two key questions, we examine several topics: the chemical and physical nature of woodsmoke; the exposures and epidemiology of smoke from wildland fires and agricultural burning, and related controlled human laboratory exposures to biomass smoke; the epidemiology of outdoor and indoor woodsmoke exposures from residential woodburning in developed countries; and the toxicology of woodsmoke, based on animal exposures and laboratory tests. In addition, a short summary of the exposures and health effects of biomass smoke in developing countries is provided as an additional line of evidence. In the concluding section, we return to the two key issues above to summarize (1) what is currently known about the health effects of inhaled woodsmoke at exposure levels experienced in developed countries, and (2) whether there exists sufficient reason to believe that woodsmoke particles are sufficiently different to warrant separate treatment from other regulated particles. In addition, we provide recommendations for additional woodsmoke research.
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            Health Effects of Fine Particulate Air Pollution: Lines that Connect

            Efforts to understand and mitigate thehealth effects of particulate matter (PM) air pollutionhave a rich and interesting history. This review focuseson six substantial lines of research that have been pursued since 1997 that have helped elucidate our understanding about the effects of PM on human health. There hasbeen substantial progress in the evaluation of PM health effects at different time-scales of exposure and in the exploration of the shape of the concentration-response function. There has also been emerging evidence of PM-related cardiovascular health effects and growing knowledge regarding interconnected general pathophysiological pathways that link PM exposure with cardiopulmonary morbidiity and mortality. Despite important gaps in scientific knowledge and continued reasons for some skepticism, a comprehensive evaluation of the research findings provides persuasive evidence that exposure to fine particulate air pollution has adverse effects on cardiopulmonaryhealth. Although much of this research has been motivated by environmental public health policy, these results have important scientific, medical, and public health implications that are broader than debates over legally mandated air quality standards.
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              A systematic review of the physical health impacts from non-occupational exposure to wildfire smoke.

              Climate change is likely to increase the threat of wildfires, and little is known about how wildfires affect health in exposed communities. A better understanding of the impacts of the resulting air pollution has important public health implications for the present day and the future.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                r1aguilerabecker@ucsd.edu
                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2041-1723
                5 March 2021
                5 March 2021
                2021
                : 12
                Affiliations
                [1 ]GRID grid.266100.3, ISNI 0000 0001 2107 4242, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, , University of California San Diego, ; La Jolla, CA USA
                [2 ]GRID grid.266100.3, ISNI 0000 0001 2107 4242, Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, , University of California San Diego, ; La Jolla, CA USA
                Article
                21708
                10.1038/s41467-021-21708-0
                7935892
                33674571
                aae51fa6-267b-4cc1-a3cb-323d8b386fa7
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funding
                Funded by: University of California Office of the President via Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (MRPI; MRP-17-446315)
                Categories
                Article
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                © The Author(s) 2021

                Uncategorized
                climate sciences,epidemiology
                Uncategorized
                climate sciences, epidemiology

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