© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

More summer smoke? Experts monitor climate-fueled events and health effects

Forest Fire on September 1, 2019 in Dixie National Forest, Utah, United States.
Santi Rodríguez/Santi Rodríguez - stock.adobe.com
Forest Fire on September 1, 2019 in Dixie National Forest, Utah, United States.

Wet weather this spring has improved drought conditions in the upper Midwest and southern Canada. However, experts remain on alert for increased wildfire activity and other climate changes affecting people's health.

Poor air quality was a frequent topic last year in the upper Midwest, as smoke pushed down from Canadian wildfires. Researchers said climate change is fueling hotter and drier summers, making forests more susceptible to large fires.

Dr. Bruce Snyder, co-founder of Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, worries about a repeat summer of thick, hazy smoke in the air creating unhealthy conditions.

"When that happens, people have more respiratory disease; people who have chronic lung disease tend to get sicker," Snyder explained. "There's a lot of downstream consequences for people all over the world."

Snyder noted the transition to cleaner energy sources is complex, but acknowledged pollution events place more emphasis on the need for less reliance on fossil fuels, due to their contributions to a warming planet.

Snyder emphasized it is not just air pollution from wildfire smoke to worry about. He pointed out there are other ways a person's health can suffer from climate change.

"We've got many more dangerous insects -- ticks, mosquitoes, and so forth," Snyder stressed. "This is having a profound effect on our wildlife. But also, we're seeing a lot more progressively rising rates of Lyme disease, of West Nile virus."

Year-over-year statistics may vary, but the median number of Lyme disease cases has risen in the past decade. Snyder added adverse health effects of climate change can be much harder for populations lacking stable housing.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
Up North Updates
* indicates required
Related Content