Smoke from forest fires may be responsible for thousands of deaths by Covid-19 in the US

Smoke from forest fires covid-19 United States

Smoke from wildfires on the west coast of the United States could be responsible for thousands of Covid-19 cases and deaths, according to a study recently published in the journal Science Advances.

After analyzing data from 92 counties in California, Oregon, and Washington between March and December 2020, Harvard University researchers say they have “strong evidence” that short-term exposure to high levels of pollution from wildfires amplified and worsened Covid-19 cases and deaths by increasing transmission of the virus. 

According to the study, in some of the counties analyzed nearly 20% of coronavirus cases were related to increased smoke from wildfires. In others, the number of smoke-related deaths was even higher.

Climate change is responsible for the increase in forest fires and their cascading effect on other crises, such as the coronavirus pandemic, the researchers note. In 2020, California experienced one of its worst wildfire seasons, and so far in 2021, wildfires have once again spread across the nation’s west coast, much of which is also experiencing extreme drought.