Daily News Reports »

David Sparks Ph.d Wildfire smoke
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: September 24, 2018

Click on the play button to listen to report.

Download Report: Wildfire_smoke.mp3

Continuing his push for active forest management to prevent unnaturally catastrophic wildfires, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today held a hearing to examine the health impacts of wildfire smoke that has inundated communities in Oregon and across the West this summer. The hearing, entitled, “Air Quality Impacts of Wildfires: Mitigation and Management Strategies,” also focused on needed changes to federal forest policy to help reduce the risk, size, and intensity of wildfires, which have burned over 700,000 acres in Oregon already this year.

“These fires have left communities in my district blanketed with smoke and with the worst air quality in the world. Medford, Oregon experienced the worst run of 'unhealthy' air quality since EPA began recording in 2000,” said Walden. “A leading offender is particulate matter. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine in March pointed out the robust evidence linking exposure to particulate matter to cardiopulmonary mortality and issues with asthma and COPD. According to EPA research, premature deaths tied to wildfire air pollution were as high as 2,500 per year between 2008 and 2012. Other research out of Colorado State University suggests it could be as high as 25,000 people a year.”

Wildfires are a significant source of emissions, especially particulate matter, and often cause the worst air quality days of the year in smoke impacted communities. Researchers have found that wildfires can cause air quality to be five to 15 times worse than the air quality on an average day. Moreover, severe wildfire seasons can result in communities experiencing continuous unhealthy air quality conditions for weeks at a time.

Representative Walden worked to include provisions in the House passed Farm Bill that would require the Forest Service to remove the burned, dead trees after a fire while they still have value and replant to restore the forest for the next generation. The Farm Bill is currently being negotiated by members of the House and Senate.

Recent Reports from Line on Agriculture

Click here to see Archived Reports