How does wildfire smoke affect long-term health? Researchers are trying to find out – CBC

Evidence of harmful health effects is growing, but more work is needed, experts say

Jun 01, 2023

It’s been an early start to the wildfire season in Canada, with more than one million hectares burned in Alberta alone and thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes across Western Canada and in parts of the Maritimes.

Wildfire smoke has also been affecting air quality for millions of people in this country, causing short-term health effects such as burning eyes, sore throat, cough and headache.

If you have an underlying respiratory or cardiovascular health condition, you are more at risk.

“I always talk about people with chronic respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD as the canaries in the coal mine of wildfire smoke,” Sarah Henderson, an epidemiologist who researches wildfire smoke, told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC’s The Dose.

“They are very sensitive to it and more sensitive to wildfire smoke than to other kinds of air pollution,” said Henderson, the scientific director of environmental health services at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

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