UW Research Links Wildfire Smoke to Increased Risk of Emergency Room Visits for People of All Ages


Annie Doubleday doesn’t want her work to scare people.

Annie Doubleday doesn’t want her work to scare people. It’s already unsettling when wildfire smoke descends upon a community, when eyes burn and throats scratch and people trickle into emergency rooms. She’d rather people see her research, which ties wildfire smoke to an increased risk of emergency department visits, as a step toward protecting themselves.

“I think it’s useful to see it as more information, and use that to help us figure out what we can do to protect ourselves,” said Doubleday, who completed the research while working toward her doctorate in environmental health at the UW and now works on air quality for the Washington State Department of Health. “For me the takeaway is we’re all at risk of health impacts. Obviously some more than others, such as those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, but we all should be taking steps to reduce exposure and watching for any symptoms.”

That’s the crux of two papers recently published in Environmental Research: Health by researchers at the University of Washington, which found an increased risk of hospital service encounters in the days following wildfire smoke events. Taken together, their findings suggest that wildfire smoke poses a risk to people of all ages, not just young children and older adults.

Read more at: University of Washington

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