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Intense, frequent fires will increase health damage, say studies

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Since the fire season is already warming in 2019, authorities are trying to find better ways to alert the public when they smoke in towns and villages.

Epidemiologist James Crook says it's a bigger problem than he thought.

"Small particles of all kinds can cause everything from coughing and throat irritation to heart attack, heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer," he says. "We know that small particles can also affect babies in the womb."

NASA scientists perfect satellite imagery to predict smoke travel and the intensity of its spread. Local authorities use these forecasts to improve real-time alerts by encouraging people to stay in the indoor environment when unhealthy conditions.

Jeffery Pierce of Colorado University predicts that health impacts will worsen in this century because of intensifying fire.

"By the end of the century, in our study, we predict that it will double the number of deaths that are attributed to smokers on an annual order of several tens of thousands, as opposed to ten or 20,000," he says.

Chronic exposure to smoke can have long-term health consequences, especially for people with existing respiratory problems.

In 2018, Calgary had 322 hours of smoke, the most on the record.

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