BC Wildfire Service will be burning debris piles in the coming weeks around Williams Lake. (Photo Gerry Leibel)

University of B.C. study warns wildfire smoke could make COVID-19 symptoms worse

Lead author Jiayun Angela Yao says rapid public health action to limit smoke exposure is vital

A study by University of British Columbia researchers underscores the immediate, harmful health effects of wildfire smoke and says there are concerning implications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, published in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives, explores a link between high levels of fine particulates in wildfire smoke and increased ambulance dispatches.

The research shows a jump in ambulance dispatches related to respiratory or cardiovascular conditions occurs within one hour of exposure to smoke.

Among diabetics, the study says the odds of health complications increase within 48 hours of exposure to fine particulates.

The researchers say the smoke has the potential to make viral respiratory infections such as COVID-19 even more severe.

Lead author Jiayun Angela Yao says rapid public health action to limit smoke exposure is vital because the pandemic remains a serious threat as the wildfire season approaches.

“Anyone with pre-existing heart and lung disease and diabetes is especially vulnerable and should consider purchasing air cleaners and ensuring that they have adequate supplies of medication at home,” Yao said in a release.

“It’s alarming to see just how quickly fine particulate matter seems to affect the respiratory and cardiovascular system. And the acute effects for people with diabetes is relatively new to us,” said Yao.

She conducted her research while completing a PhD at the UBC School of Population and Public Health.

Researchers used statistical modelling to examine ambulance dispatches, paramedic assessments and hospital admissions for respiratory, circulatory and diabetic conditions related to high levels of fine particulates during wildfire seasons in B.C. from 2010 to 2015.

The study was supported by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program and the British Columbia Lung Association.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

bc wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Fundraising begins to bring back Mountainview Lodge bus

The bus went out of use about two years ago, isolating many seniors in the Kitimat community.

Police investigate July 2 homicide in Houston

Man succumbed to injuries at Pearson Road residence

Water fights and food trucks: Kitimat residents celebrate Canada Day with sun and smiles

Celebrations still brought smiles and laughs, even if the day was a little different than usual

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Community infrastructure funding announced for 24 Northern B.C. projects

Recipients include municipalities, First Nations and not-for-profits

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Most Read