Wildfire air pollution and daily mortality in a large urban area
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): S. Vedal; S. J. Dutton
Publication Year: 2006

Cataloging Information

  • aerosols
  • air pollution
  • cardiovascular disease
  • CO - carbon monoxide
  • Colorado
  • cover
  • forest fires
  • health factors
  • mortality
  • mortality
  • particulate matter
  • particulates
  • pollution
  • smoke effects
  • wildfires
  • wind
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 19, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45027
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20476
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Unusual air pollution episodes, such as when smoke from wildfires covers a large urban area, can be used to attempt to detect associations between short-term increases in particulate matter (PM) concentrations and subsequent mortality without relying on the sophisticated statistical models that are typically required in the absence of such episodes.The objective of this study was to explore whether acute increases in PM concentrations from wildfire smoke cause acute increases in daily mortality. The temporal patterns of daily nonaccidental deaths and daily cardiorespiratory deaths for June of 2002 in the Denver metropolitan area were examined and compared to those in two nearby counties in Colorado that were not affected by the wildfire smoke and to daily deaths in Denver in June of 2001. Abrupt increases in PM concentrations in Denver occurred on 2 days in June of 2002 as a result of wildfire smoke drifting over the Denver area. Small peaks in mortality corresponded to both of the PM peaks, but the first mortality peak also corresponded to a peak of mortality in the control counties, and cardiorespiratory deaths began to increase on the day before the second peak. Further, there was no detectable increase in cardiorespiratory deaths in the hours immediately following the PM peaks.Although the findings from this study do not rule out the possibility of small increases in mortality due to abrupt and dramatic increases in PM concentrations from wildfire smoke, in a population of over 2 million people no perceptible increases in daily mortality could be attributed to such events. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Vedal, S., and S. J. Dutton. 2006. Wildfire air pollution and daily mortality in a large urban area. Environmental Research, v. 102, no. 1, p. 29-35. 10.1016/j.envres.2006.03.008.