Wildfires leave behind toxic debris in the air, soil, and waterways, requiring billion-dollar cleanups in some cases, and they can also have a long-lasting, costly impact on human health. A study published last year in the journal GeoHealth reported that the 2012 wildfire season in Washington led to $2.3 billion in health care costs, most related to respiratory illnesses including asthma and pneumonia.

A 2017 study led by the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the cost of short-term exposures to US wildfires occurring between 2008 and 2012 that led to premature deaths or hospital admissions at $63 billion; the cost of long-term exposures was estimated at $450 billion.

Scientists fear the 2020 wildfire season—which at times has turned cities like Portland, Oregon, into the world’s most polluted—could leave thousands of people sick and facing sizable medical bills.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *