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

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

Just Posted

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read