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Other studies confirm the health dangers of wildfires

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According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journalpatients with COVID-19 who live in areas exposed to pollutants like fine particulates, nitrogen dioxide, and ground-level ozone are more prone to experiencing severe outcomes like hospitalization, care admission intensive and death.

While science has already linked fine particulates, a pollutant emitted by combustion, and how inhaling them can exacerbate asthma, lung and heart disease, the long-term health effects are less well known. .

There isn’t really a scale to say that a level of air pollution is safe, the level should be as low as possiblesaid the author of the study, Dr. Jeff Kwong, family physician, specialist in preventive medicine and principal investigator at the Institute of Health Care Research of Ontario.

He wears a blue shirt and sits in front of his library.

Jeff Kwong is a family physician, preventative medicine specialist and senior scientist at the Ontario Institute of Healthcare Research

Photo: CBC

This is essentially the message that many of these studies show when it comes to air pollution and health, that there are no safe amounts of pollution.he explains.

Mr Kwong says he hopes the research will persuade policy makers to reduce pollution levels.

We need to make sure we have good regulations to ensure our air is of good quality, because pollution has consequenceshe adds.

The researchers looked at a cohort of 150,000 people with COVID-19 in Ontario and assigned a level of pollution exposure to each individual based on where they lived from 2015 to 2019.

They compared the health outcomes of patients who live in the most polluted areas with those of patients who live in the least polluted areas, and found that the former had a higher risk of being admitted to intensive care.

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People chronically exposed to particulate matter and ground-level ozone also had an increased risk of hospitalization and death, the study found.

The study did not include people who live in long-term care homes because their vulnerability to severe consequences from COVID-19 and exposure to air pollution differs from that of the general population.

Small variations in pollution levels also linked to lung diseases

Researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (RI-MUHC) have found that even exposure to low levels of air pollution can be associated with poor lung function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). ).

Their study was published last Thursday in theAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers estimated the amount of fine particles and nitrogen dioxide to which 1,500 people were exposed based on where they lived.

For three years, the scientists monitored their lung function using a CT scanner and spirometry tests, a test that measures the amount of air expelled in a single forced exhalation.

He wears a blue sweater and a shirt.

Dr. Benjamin Smith is a respirologist and researcher at the RI-MUHC.

Photo: Courtesy of Owen Egan

We drew links between the amount of air pollution each person was exposed to and their individual lung function and found that even with small increases in air pollution, lung function was negatively affectedsaid Dr. Benjamin Smith, pulmonologist and researcher at the RI-MUHC.

Researchers also found that people with smaller airways are more likely to have lower lung function and suffer from COPD than those with larger airways.

One of the important findings of this study is the notion that there are lungs that are more resilient and lungs that are more sensitive.says Smith.

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If we could look earlier in life to understand how these resilient, sensitive lungs form, we might find ways to prevent disease and the concerns of various exposures.he added.

Preparing for the worst in a changing climate

Last year, British Columbia and Northwestern Ontario experienced an intense wildfire season that had a significant impact on communities.

Disaster after disaster, it’s the cascading of these things together and the cascading of their health impacts, that’s what strikes me the most right now.says Sarah Henderson, scientific director of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control.

She wears a black coat.

Sarah Henderson is Scientific Director of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control.

Photo: University of British Columbia.

With climate change contributing to the acceleration of these extreme weather events, she says she is preparing for the worst.

We always have to just go into these seasons expecting something worse than what we’ve already seen, we can hope that won’t be the case, but if we’re prepared everyone will be better off.she says.

According to Courtney Howard, an emergency room doctor at a Yellowknife hospital, everyone should have N-95 masks and air purifiers ready for wildfire season, and people with asthma should have their inhalers refilled.

So that people don’t end up in this situation where they have to go out through the smoky environment to get to a place where they can refill their inhalers or get their medssays Howard.

Doctors should let their patients know about Canada’s air quality index and let them know when they should stay indoors, Howard said. She says she often saw people running outside when the index was very high.

With information from CBC’s Peggy Lam

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