Underestimating the effect of forest fires
The specific effects of pollution from forest fires on the skin are less clear, in part because each forest fire is unique in terms of what it burns (building materials? Trees? Bushes?), Its intensity. and its temperature. The most toxic compounds are created at the highest temperatures, said Dr Valacchi.
(This is also true of cigarettes. There is no such thing as a healthy way to smoke, but the worst part is that if you smoke so quickly, the ash does not fall. “You have a very high combustion temperature, and it creates very, very, very carcinogenic compounds., “he said.)
Researchers in the Eczema and Wildfire Study chose to focus on this disease because people with the disease have an altered skin barrier, which means they would be more likely to have a reaction to the disease. smoke, said Dr Wei. In the United States, about 7% of adults and 15% of children have eczema, but it is not yet clear how this translates to the rest of the population as it is not known whether the incidence and severity of skin diseases is simply increasing as pollution does, or whether there is a pollution threshold at which the skin barrier fails completely, she mentioned. (Unlike long-term exposure to air pollution from cars and industry, forest fires are typically short but extremely intense exposure to hazardous air, Fadadu said.)
In the study, visits to the dermatology clinic for itching increased significantly during the roughly two weeks of the fire in November, and 89% of adult patients had no prior diagnosis. (During the same period in previous years, about 50 percent of eczema patients had no previous diagnosis.) Researchers are uncertain whether these people had subclinical eczema and whether the fire ” unmasked it, “said Dr Wei,” or so “it was normal people who were actually showing symptoms of eczema from the fire.
Either way, Dr. Misha Rosenbach, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the American Academy of Dermatology’s Climate Change and Environmental Affairs Expert Resource Group, said that the impact of forest fires on the skin is most likely much greater. than what we know now. He praised the eczema study, but said it likely underestimates the effects of wildfires – most people with rashes tend to visit wards. emergency or primary care physicians, not dermatology clinics, which were the study data set.
Additionally, the study took place in San Francisco, 175 miles from the source of the fire. “We have had many days on the east coast where the air quality is the worst it has ever been because of the west coast fires,” he said.