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

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

BC Ferries Sailing Cancellations

Prince Rupert - Haida Gwaii - Northern Adventure

Month-long water quality advisory still in effect for Rupert residents

The City of Prince Rupert recommends those with weakened immune systems boil water prior to use

Jennifer Rice North Coast MLA seeks re-election

Northwest politicians announce intent on elections

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Most Read