Long-term impacts of non-occupational wildfire exposure on human health: A systematic review, study published on the Environmental pollution, has led to interesting conclusions on this issue which, in recent years, has been afflicting many countries across the globe.
The devastating fires in the US or Australia are just one example.
Long-term impacts of wildfire exposure on human health
The researchers say: "The intensity and frequency of wildfires is increasing globally. The systematic review of the current evidence on long-term impacts of non-occupational wildfire exposure on human health has not been performed yet.
To provide a systematic review and identify potential knowledge gaps in the current evidence of long-term impacts of non-occupational exposure to wildfire smoke and/or wildfire impacts on human health.We conducted a systematic search of the literature via MEDLINE, Embase and Scopus from the database inception to July 05, 2022.
References from the included studies and relevant reviews were also considered.The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) and a validated quality assessment framework were used to evaluate the quality of observational studies.Study results were synthesized descriptively.
A total of 36 studies were included in our systematic review.Most studies were from developed countries (11 in Australia, 9 in Canada, 7 in the United States).Studies predominantly focused on mental health (21 studies, 58.33%), while evidence on long-term impacts of wildfire exposure on health outcomes other than mental health is limited.
Current evidence indicated that long-term impacts of non-occupational wildfire exposure were associated with mortality (COVID-19 mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality and acute myocardial disease mortality), morbidity (mainly respiratory diseases), mental health disorders (mainly posttraumatic stress disorder) , shorter height of children, reduced length function and poorer general health status.
However, no significant associations were observed for long-term impacts of wildfire exposure on child mortality and respiratory hospitalizations. The population-based high-quality evidence with quantitative analysis on this topic is still limited.
Future well-designed studies considering extensive wildfire smoke air pollutants (e.g., particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen oxides) and estimating risk coefficient values for extensive health outcomes (e.g., mortality, morbidity) are warranted to fill current knowledge gaps."