Latest: Wildfire smoke deaths could double by century’s end

New research shows fire-polluted air could kill up to 44,000 people per year by 2100.

  • As seen from Kerry Park, wild fire smoke covers Seattle this August.

 

BACKSTORY

Wildfire smoke is creating a public health crisis. Last year, nearly every county in Montana was declared a disaster area. As wildfires raged, respiratory-related visits to emergency rooms spiked (“Montana’s tough summer,” HCN, 12/11/17). In Lolo, Montana, officials installed new air filters in schools to improve air quality. But without dedicated government programs to combat smoke, Western communities could be taxed by the impacts of future fire seasons, which are projected to worsen with climate change.

FOLLOWUP

This year, scientists from Colorado State University and other institutions analyzed the situation and made a grim prediction. A study estimates that the number of deaths related to wildfire smoke in the United States could be as high as 44,000 per year by 2100 — more than double the current rate of about 17,000 deaths per year. Even as humanity reins in similar pollution from industry and car emissions, climate change will further boost wildfires’ deadly smoke.

Carl Segerstrom is an editorial fellow at NewTowncarShare News. Email him at [email protected] 

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