Wildfires in U.S. state of California cause 52,000 early deaths in decade: study-Xinhua

Wildfires in U.S. state of California cause 52,000 early deaths in decade: study

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-09 14:23:00

SACRAMENTO, United States, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. state of California saw over 52,000 people die prematurely in a decade due to smoke from wildfires, according to a new study.

The study, published in Science Advances on Friday, attributed an estimated number of 52,480 to 55,710 premature deaths to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution caused by wildfires from 2008 to 2018, which translated to an economic impact of 432 billion to 456 billion U.S. dollars.

Los Angeles County was hit the hardest, with an estimated number of 9,224 early deaths attributable to wildfire smoke during the study period. Sacramento County followed with over 4,147 deaths, according to researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Exposure to PM2.5 from wildfires is linked to a variety of health problems, including respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and even premature death.

The study is the first to analyze the long-term health impacts of wildfire smoke exposure in California, said the authors.

Previous research primarily focused on short-term effects, such as hospital admissions following large fires. The UCLA researchers took a comprehensive approach and found that wildfire smoke was present in every Californian community throughout the entire study period.

The worsening wildfire situation in California, partly as a result of climate change, puts California's nearly 40 million population at a heightened risk of wildfire exposure, the study noted, calling for more proactive measures to mitigate its long-term effects.