Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Wildfire Smoke Found To Be Dangerous To Human Health

Matthew Bowler
The orange haze covering the San Diego skyline on Sept. 15, 2020, because of smoke from wildfires across California, including the Valley Fire in rural East County.
San Diego scientists say wildfire smoke is harmful to the health of people living in the path of smoke from the fires.

San Diego researchers say smoke from wildfires is much more dangerous to human health than tailpipe emissions that come from the state’s cars and trucks.

A new study finds the particles carried in wildfire smoke are 10 times more dangerous to human health than vehicle exhaust.

Wildfire Smoke Found To Be Dangerous To Human Health
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

Researchers found that wildfire smoke pushed up hospital admissions by 10%.

RELATED: Santa Ana Winds, High Temperatures Stoke Wildfire Fears

“We looked at the occurrence of wildfires, so where the wildfires happened in Southern California,” said report co-author Tom Corringham. “And using the wind patterns where that smoke was transported and also satellite images of smoke plumes. We then linked that to levels of particulate matter collected by the EPA and other air quality monitoring stations.”

VIDEO: Wildfire Smoke Found To Be Dangerous To Human Health

The planet’s warming climate likely means there will be more frequent and intense wildfires ahead.

“It's really important that we continue to invest in our environmental monitoring program and also in our public health system,” Corringham said.

RELATED: San Diego Urban Corps Helps Clear Brush, Create Defensible Space

Public health officials, according to Corringham, should devise strategies to lower the risk when smoke fills the air.

People with a sensitivity to polluted air might want to consider staying inside when wildfire smoke comes to their home.

The findings are published in the current edition of the journal Nature Communications.