Effect modification of the association between fine particulate air pollution during a wildfire event and respiratory health by area-level measures of socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, and smoking prevalence Journal Article uri icon



  • Abstract; Fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) is decreasing in most areas of the United States, except for areas most affected by wildfires, where increasing trends in PM2.5 can be attributed to wildfire smoke. The frequency and duration of large wildfires and the length of the wildfire season have all increased in recent decades, partially due to climate change, and wildfire risk is projected to increase further in many regions including the western United States. Increasingly, empirical evidence suggests differential health effects from air pollution by class and race; however, few studies have investigated such differential health impacts from air pollution during a wildfire event. We investigated differential risk of respiratory health impacts during the 2008 northern California wildfires by a comprehensive list of socio-economic status (SES), race/ethnicity, and smoking prevalence variables. Regardless of SES level across nine measures of SES, we found significant associations between PM2.5 and asthma hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits during these wildfires. Differential respiratory health risk was found by SES for ED visits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease where the highest risks were in ZIP codes with the lowest SES levels. Findings for differential effects by race/ethnicity were less consistent across health outcomes. We found that ZIP codes with higher prevalence of smokers had greater risk of ED visits for asthma and pneumonia. Our study suggests that public health efforts to decrease exposures to high levels of air pollution during wildfires should focus on lower SES communities.

publication date

  • June 1, 2023

has restriction

  • gold

Date in CU Experts

  • March 29, 2023 12:06 PM

Full Author List

  • Reid CE; Considine EM; Watson GL; Telesca D; Pfister GG; Jerrett M

author count

  • 6

Other Profiles

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2752-5309

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 025005

end page

  • 025005


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