Author(s):
Emily Grant, Jennifer D. Runkle
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Topic(s):
Fire Effects
Fire & Climate
Risk
Smoke & Air Quality
Smoke Emissions
Smoke Emissions and Inventory
Wildland Firefighter Health

FRAMES RCS Number: 65046
Record updated: November 29, 2022
NRFSN number: 24675

Wildfires pose a number of acute and chronic health threats, including increased morbidity and mortality. While much of the current literature has focused on the short-term health effects of forest fires and wildfire smoke, few reviews have sought to understand their long-term impact on human health. This scoping review aims to map the state of evidence as it pertains to the long-term health effects of wildfires, including physical health, mental health, and healthcare costs. A literature search identified 17 research studies meeting inclusion and review criteria. Descriptive and thematic analyses were conducted and synthesized in a narrative form for the following health topics: premature mortality; increased morbidity including respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health, and other health outcomes; and health-related economic outcomes or healthcare costs. The resulting evidence revealed limited papers, many of which were of low or mixed quality, that pointed to increased population-level mortality due to wildfire exposure and increased respiratory morbidity. While the results of lung cancer research were mixed, exposure to PM2.5 and chemicals in wildfire smoke were correlated with an increased risk of cancer of all types. Future research should include prospective longitudinal studies, collection of demographic information to assess the impacts of wildfires on the most vulnerable, expand the evidence-base for the mental health consequences of wildfire events, and include more research in low- and middle-income countries.

Citation

Grant, Emily; Runkle, Jennifer D. 2022. Long-term health effects of wildfire exposure: a scoping review. The Journal of Climate Change and Health 6:100110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joclim.2021.100110

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