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According to a new Stanford study, breathing wildfire smoke while pregnant may increase the risk of preterm birth.
As many as 7,000 additional preterm births in California between 2007 and 2012 could have resulted from exposure to smoke from the fires that have hit the state especially hard in recent years.
Wildfire smoke has high levels of PM 2.5, the small and harmful particle pollution that can enter the lungs and bloodstream—and, through a series of impacts to the body, trigger early contractions. Just a week’s worth of smoke was associated with a 5% increased risk. A month meant a 20% increase. Last year, more than half of Californians were breathing an unhealthy to hazardous level of smoke for at least a month.
The trends beyond this year point to more fire and more smoke: “In the future, we expect to see more frequent and intense exposure to wildfire smoke throughout the West due to a confluence of factors, including climate change, a century of fire suppression and construction of more homes along the fire-prone fringes of forests, scrublands, and grasslands. As a result, the health burden from smoke exposure – including preterm births – is likely to increase,” said lead author Sam Heft-Neal, a research scholar at Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer This week, the medical journal Lancet published their annual report on health in relation to climate change, subtitling it: “code red for a healthy future.” The report delves beyond the obvious effects of wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather events — looking at food security; livelihoods; human physical and mental […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The EPA announced Monday that it will move toward regulating perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — manmade “forever chemicals” — that don’t naturally break down and can contaminate both air and water. These chemicals, found in various household products, from dental floss to nonstick pans, can also be harmful […]
The editors of over 230 medical journals said in a statement on Monday that climate change is a health issue and that its effects could become “catastrophic” if world leaders don’t do more to address it. The health impacts of climate change include wildfire smoke–which has been linked to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases–and pollutants […]
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