Health effects of climate change-induced wildfires and heatwaves
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Michael R. Rossiello; Anthony Szema
Publication Year: 2019

Cataloging Information

  • asthma
  • climate change
  • COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • fire frequency
  • heat waves
  • PM - particulate matter
  • public health
  • respiratory disease
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: August 8, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 58412


Global warming is a phenomenon that is affecting society in sundry ways. As of 2017, Earth’s global surface temperature increased 0.9°C compared to the average temperature in the mid-1900s. Beyond this change in temperature lies significant threats to human health in the form of natural disasters and extreme temperatures. One natural disaster that has been receiving much more attention as of 2010 is the ignition and spread of wildfires. Warmer climates lead to drier conditions, providing ideal kindling for the rapid spread of these infernos. The dangers that these intense fires pose are twofold: first, the fire causes mass property damage, physical harm, or death to the people unfortunate enough to be caught in the blaze; second, the health hazards of smoke inhalation and the emotional strain of losing one’s possessions cause immense physical and emotional harm to the fire’s victims. Another health hazard that is becoming more common due to global warming is heatwave exposure. The heat provides an ideal environment for certain pathogens to thrive, increases people’s risk of developing temperature-related health conditions, and could exacerbate many preexisting diseases. The increase in frequency and intensity of these extreme weather conditions calls for devotion of resources to fire prevention and public health measures related to smoke inhalation and heat exposure.

Online Link(s):
Rossiello, Michael R.; Szema, Anthony. 2019. Health effects of climate change-induced wildfires and heatwaves. Cureus 11(5):e4771.