Giving Compass’ Take:
• According to researchers, exposure to wildfire smoke early in life seems to alter the way human lungs grow. FiveThirtyEight reports on the latest science.
• Should funders take a more long-term view when it comes to disaster relief and resilience? How might we better track the public health hazards to wildfires?
The 2008 wildfire season in California was a terrible one. Just like this year, air quality alerts were triggered across the northern part of the state, and even hundreds of miles from the actual fires, the air was filled with smoke. In the midst of this, 50 baby monkeys were born. They spent their first months of life outside, breathing that choking, sooty air. Now, they are one of the best sources we have for information about the long-term effects wildfires can have on public health. The results are … not comforting.
The current batch of California wildfires has reminded us of the acute short-term dangers of smoke inhalation. But the danger doesn’t stop there. A growing body of evidence suggests that wildfire smoke — whether from a single event or from multiple, recurrent exposures over several years — can have a big impact on children, increasing both individual risk of serious cardiovascular and respiratory illness later in life and the percentage of the adult population at higher risk of life-threatening breathing problems when new fires occur. As climate change increases the likelihood and size of wildfires in the western U.S., scientists say the next generation will likely find its biological future shaped by the choices of the past.
Read the full article about California’s wildfires and their effects on lung health by Maggie Koerth-Baker at FiveThirtyEight.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for North America, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and North America.
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