Has the smoke made you forgetful?

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Particulate matter (PM) is a chemical composition of smoke, including sulfates, carbon, nitrates, or mineral dusts. It stems from vehicle and industrial emissions and other fossil fuel burning, and researchers are now increasingly examining wildfires and the effects of longterm exposure to wildfire smoke that affect respiratory illnesses and other impacts to human health.

A subset of PM — fine particulate matter (PM2.5) — is especially dangerous to human health because it’s 30 times thinner than a human hair and can not only lodge in lung tissue but also cross into the brain after it’s inhaled.

NOAA smoke imageScientists from the University of Michigan have identified a link between agriculture and wildfire PM2.5 emissions and the onset of dementia among 27,857 adult Americans, with data drawn from the national Health and Retirement Study. Pollution estimates were based on the locations of the participants, who were older than 50 and did not have dementia at the outset. About 15 percent of the study participants developed dementia, but the rate of cognitive decline was significantly greater in the areas of high PM2.5 concentration between 1998 and 2016.

This joins a growing body of evidence forming a significant link between the microscopic toxins and dementia. The research was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

THANKS and a tip of the hardhat to Jay for this info.

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9 thoughts on “Has the smoke made you forgetful?”

  1. And to think, H Pay for prescribed fire is not in current legislation. Despite known health hazards and despite presumptive occupational illness. It’s funny that the federal government requires cancer causing labels on just about everything in the nation however you won’t see these warnings on a Risk Analysis Worksheet or get paid fairly for the exposures you’re subjected to. What are the incentives for people to apply for the new Fuels Crews coming to the Agency? Oh yeah, a little bit of flexibility and potentially a little bit better work life balance. Certainly NOT a toxic free environment.

  2. Was it smoke or the lack of sleep that caused memory lapse? Hard to separate the two in the fire world.

  3. Bandannas are actually quite dangerous as they only stop large particles. The dangerous small ones (PM 2.5 and less) go straight through the weave. As a Canadian study I read about ten years ago said, it is like trying to stop mosquitoes getting in your house while having your front door wide open.

  4. Wildland firefighters are exposed to wood smoke, which contains hazardous air pollutants, by suppressing thousands of wildfires across the U. S. each year. We estimated the relative risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality from existing PM2.5 exposure-response relationships using measured PM4 concentrations from smoke and breathing rates from wildland firefighter field studies across different exposure scenarios. To estimate the relative risk of lung cancer (LC) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality from exposure to PM2.5 from smoke, we used an existing exposure-response (ER) relationship. We estimated the daily dose of wildfire smoke PM2.5 from measured concentrations of PM4, estimated wildland firefighter breathing rates, daily shift duration (hours per day) and frequency of exposure (fire days per year and career duration). Firefighters who worked 49 days per year were exposed to a daily dose of PM4 that ranged from 0.15 mg to 0.74 mg for a 5- and 25-year career, respectively. The daily dose for firefighters working 98 days per year of PM4 ranged from 0.30 mg to 1.49 mg. Across all exposure scenarios (49 and 98 fire days per year) and career durations (5-25 years), we estimated that wildland firefighters were at an increased risk of LUNG CANCER (8 percent to 43 percent) and cardiovascular disease (16 percent to 30 percent) mortality. This unique approach assessed long term health risks for wildland firefighters and demonstrated that wildland firefighters have an increased risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease mortality.

    I’m more worried about CANCER than dementia, most wildland firefighters already have a sense of dementia working for the federal government.

  5. Wouldn’t it be better to remove the PM2.5, PM 4 even PM1 from the air being breathed?
    Small particulates actually get deep in the lungs and cilia cant expel them. They can then change the chemical composition of the blood which in turn can cause heart attack, the greatest killer of wildfire fighters worldwide.
    Smoke can get you quickly or slowly by developing various cancers. Stop breathing them in is the answer.

What do you think?