Wildfires Produced Up to Half of Pollution in the US West
Jan 11, 2021 at 4:40pm
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildfire smoke accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years as warming temperatures fueled more destructive blazes, according to a study released Monday.
Even as pollution emissions declined from other sources, including vehicle exhaust and power plants, the amount from fires increased sharply, said researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego. Their findings underscore the growing public health threat posed by climate change as it contributes to catastrophic wildfires, such as those that charred huge areas of California and the Pacific Northwest in 2020.
“From a climate perspective, wildfires should be the first things on our minds for many of us in the U.S.,” said Marshall Burke, an associate professor of earth system science at Stanford and lead author of the study.
“Most people do not see sea-level rise. Most people do not ever see hurricanes. Many, many people will see wildfire smoke from climate change,” Burke added. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.