eCite Digital Repository

Critical Review of Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke Exposure


Reid, CE and Brauer, M and Johnston, FH and Jerrett, M and Balmes, JR and Elliott, CT, Critical Review of Health Impacts of Wildfire Smoke Exposure, Environmental Health Perspectives, 124, (9) pp. 1334-1343. ISSN 0091-6765 (2016) [Refereed Article]


PDF (Post print version)

Copyright Statement

Public domain 'Reproduced with permission from Environmental Health Perspectives'

DOI: doi:10.1289/ehp.1409277


BACKGROUND: Wildfire activity is predicted to increase in many parts of the world due to changes in temperature and precipitation patterns from global climate change. Wildfire smoke contains numerous hazardous air pollutants and many studies have documented population health effects from this exposure.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to assess the evidence of health effects from exposure to wildfire smoke and to identify susceptible populations.

METHODS: We reviewed the scientific literature for studies of wildfire smoke exposure on mortality and on respiratory, cardiovascular, mental, and perinatal health. Within those reviewed papers deemed to have minimal risk of bias, we assessed the coherence and consistency of findings.

DISCUSSION: Consistent evidence documents associations between wildfire smoke exposure and general respiratory health effects, specifically exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Growing evidence suggests associations with increased risk of respiratory infections and all-cause mortality. Evidence for cardiovascular effects is mixed, but a few recent studies have reported associations for specific cardiovascular endpoints. Insufficient research exists to identify specific population subgroups that are more susceptible to wildfire smoke exposure.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent evidence from a large number of studies indicates that wildfire smoke exposure is associated with respiratory morbidity with growing evidence supporting an association with all-cause mortality. More research is needed to clarify which causes of mortality may be associated with wildfire smoke, whether cardiovascular outcomes are associated with wildfire smoke, and if certain populations are more susceptible.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:wildfire, smoke, health
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Epidemiology
Research Field:Environmental epidemiology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Johnston, FH (Professor Fay Johnston)
ID Code:109409
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP130100146)
Web of Science® Times Cited:408
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-06-14
Last Modified:2017-11-06
Downloads:262 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page