Wildfire effects on breathing of outdoor workers

A new study published in the The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, provided interesting answers to this topic

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Wildfire effects on breathing of outdoor workers
© Octavio Passos / Stringer Getty Images

What is the effect of wildfires on the human respiratory system? And above all, how much does the effect of wildfires influence respiratory pathologies? Are outdoor workers more susceptible than others to the negative effects that wildfires have on the respiratory system?

Respiratory problems are due in 85% of cases to asthma, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, laryngotracheal stenosis, psychogenic causes or, recently, even COVID-19. And of course the treatment usually depends on the underlying cause.

Although shortness of breath is generally caused by disorders of the cardio-respiratory system, there are other possible causes: neurological, musculoskeletal, endocrine, hematological, and anxiety problems. The most common cardiovascular causes are acute myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure, while common pulmonary causes include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, pneumothorax, and pneumonia.

Wildfire
Wildfire© David Gray / Stringer Getty Images
 

Wildfire effects on breathing of outdoor workers

The study: Respiratory diseases associated with wildfire exposure in outdoor workers, published in the The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice, provided interesting answers to this topic.

"Wildfires, including forest fires, bushfires, and landscape fires, have become increasingly prevalent, fueled by climate change and environmental factors, posing significant challenges to both ecosystems and public health.

This review article examines the relationship between wildfires and respiratory diseases in outdoor workers , with a main focus on airway disease.In addition to the expected effects of direct thermal respiratory injuries, and possible carbon monoxide poisoning, there are associations between wildfires and upper and lower respiratory effects including infections, as well as exacerbations of asthma and COPD.

A few studies have also shown an increased risk of new onset asthma among wildfire firefighters. Outdoor workers are likely to have greater exposure to wildfire smoke with associated increased risks of adverse effects. As wildfires become increasingly prevalent globally, it is crucial to understand the various dimensions of this association

. Furthermore, this review addresses preventive measures and potential interventions to alleviate the airway burden on individuals during and after work with wildfires events," said the researchers.