Wildfires continue to happen in same locations each year, but the long term health effects or lung cancer risk of such events are very little known. As this occurs in similar regions, people living in nearby communities might be exposed to wildfire pollutants on a chronic basis. The wildfires are predicted to become more severe and longer in duration in future and are being recognized as a global health problem. They may affect our lungs and immune systems and more research is being conducted into the effects of billowing clouds of smoke on human health.
Just like other types of smokes including cigarettes, wildfire smoke contains a mixture of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and Volatile chemicals. The most dangerous part is the particulate matter. These components affect lungs and can increase the risk for lung cancer. It can increase respiratory conditions such as asthma in short term. Wildfires are a different kind of smoke and can travel far and fast. Even after the smoke from Fire abated, the exposure to smoke can affect immune system and lung function.
Over the last few years, some studies and research work has been carried out in the field of wildfire smoke. They accessed the long term health risks for wild land firefighters and found that they have an increased risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality. One such study has found that those within radius of wildfire within past 10 years have an increased risk of lung cancer.
More research is required to be carried out to understand the complex environmental pollutants which are released during wildfires. Studies are also needed to develop more long term estimates of the chronic health effects from wildfires.
The information shared in this blog is for educational purposes only. You should always consult your medical practitioner for any healthcare needs.