Wildfire smoke is a public health threat
Wildfire smoke can affect large areas and lead to asthma attacks, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as general irritation of the lungs, throat, eyes and nose, especially in young children and the elderly.[[Centers for Disease Control, “Wildfires Fact Sheet,” April 19, 2007.]] [[Delfino, RJ et al., “The relationship of respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions to the southern California wildfires of 2003,” (Abstract) Occupational and Environmental Medicine 66, no. 3 (March 2009): 189-197.]] A growing number of people are at risk because of the increase in wildfires in the American West over recent decades, a trend associated to warming temperatures.
Another major concern is that as more people live next to wildlands, in what are known as “wildland-urban interface” areas, more people are put at risk.[[Theobald, David M., and William H. Romme, “Expansion of the US Wildland-Urban Interface,” (Abstract) Landscape and Urban Planning 83, no. 4 (2007): 340-354.]] In 2000, the wildland-urban interface (WUI) covered 465,614 km² and had 12.5 million homes, a 52% increase from 1970. Most of this growth was in western states, where almost 90% of the WUI occurs in lands that are prone to fire.