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The health impacts of wildfires in America’s West

Wildfires burn in Alberta on May 7. Photo by Darryl Dyck / BloombergMapping the health threat of wildfires under climate change in US West Tens of millions will experience longer, more intense ‘smoke waves’ YALE SCHOOL OF FORESTRY & ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, Eureka Alert, 15 Aug 16 A surge in major wildfire events in the U.S. West as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.

The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than 82 million people will experience “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.

Their results, published in the journal Climatic Change, point to the need for new or modified wildfire management and evacuation programs in the nation’s high-risk regions, said Jia Coco Liu, a recent Ph.D. graduate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of the study.

“Our study illustrates that smoke waves are likely to be longer, more intense, and more frequent under climate change,” Liu said. “This raises critical health, ecological, and economic concerns. Identifying communities that will be most affected in the future will inform development of fire management strategies and disaster preparedness programs.”…..http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/ysof-mt081516.php

August 17, 2016 - Posted by | climate change, health, USA

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