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How California wildfire season, climate change, health intersect

Summer heat is fast-approaching and with it comes the increased risk for wildfires and more days under a hazy, smoggy sky. Pollution from wildfire smoke and from ozone are both dangerous for our health, especially in the short term. But with impacts from climate change pointing to more intense wildfire seasons, climate scientists and health experts are starting to consider the long-term cumulative damage that could be done by repeated exposure to days with unhealthy air quality. This week on the KCRA 3 News at 11 p.m., we’re airing a three-part series examining the connections between wildfires, climate change and our health.Here’s what to expect with the series. Part 1: On Monday, hear from a climate scientist at UCLA who says that despite successful attempts to lower ozone pollution, days with dangerously polluted air are expected to keep increasing unless major changes are made. “It’s really striking to see that the very most extreme (pollution) days have been increasing even when the average values for some of these pollutants have been lowering and getting better over time,” Dr. Daniel Swain said.Part 2: On Tuesday, we’re focusing on the potential threats to not just to individuals, but the United States’ health care system in general. “Everyone’s lungs and everyone’s cardiovascular system is going to be impacted and the repeated exposure of doing that year after year is going to leave people vulnerable that weren’t vulnerable before,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute.We also talk to a respiratory health expert at UC Davis.Part 3: On Wednesday, we talk with a scientist specializing in carbon capture and removal at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Hundreds of researchers there are working on finding new pathways for not just reducing our carbon emissions, but removing carbon that has already been released into the atmosphere. “We’re already well on the way to doing that. The technology is clear,” said Dr. Roger Aines, chief scientist at Lawrence Livermore.Those emissions are at the root of the climate changes we are experiencing and are ultimately connected with the rising temperatures and intensifying droughts that are tied to bigger wildfires and more unhealthy pollution days. Watch the KCRA 3 News at 11 p.m. this week for these stories and get more Forecasting Our Future stories here. KCRA 3 is also covering how to prepare for wildfire season with a 30-minute special Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Summer heat is fast-approaching and with it comes the increased risk for wildfires and more days under a hazy, smoggy sky.

Pollution from wildfire smoke and from ozone are both dangerous for our health, especially in the short term. But with impacts from climate change pointing to more intense wildfire seasons, climate scientists and health experts are starting to consider the long-term cumulative damage that could be done by repeated exposure to days with unhealthy air quality.

  • This week on the KCRA 3 News at 11 p.m., we’re airing a three-part series examining the connections between wildfires, climate change and our health.

Here’s what to expect with the series.

Part 1: On Monday, hear from a climate scientist at UCLA who says that despite successful attempts to lower ozone pollution, days with dangerously polluted air are expected to keep increasing unless major changes are made.

“It’s really striking to see that the very most extreme (pollution) days have been increasing even when the average values for some of these pollutants have been lowering and getting better over time,” Dr. Daniel Swain said.

Part 2: On Tuesday, we’re focusing on the potential threats to not just to individuals, but the United States’ health care system in general.

“Everyone’s lungs and everyone’s cardiovascular system is going to be impacted and the repeated exposure of doing that year after year is going to leave people vulnerable that weren’t vulnerable before,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute.

We also talk to a respiratory health expert at UC Davis.

Part 3: On Wednesday, we talk with a scientist specializing in carbon capture and removal at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Hundreds of researchers there are working on finding new pathways for not just reducing our carbon emissions, but removing carbon that has already been released into the atmosphere.

“We’re already well on the way to doing that. The technology is clear,” said Dr. Roger Aines, chief scientist at Lawrence Livermore.

Those emissions are at the root of the climate changes we are experiencing and are ultimately connected with the rising temperatures and intensifying droughts that are tied to bigger wildfires and more unhealthy pollution days.


Watch the KCRA 3 News at 11 p.m. this week for these stories and get more Forecasting Our Future stories here. KCRA 3 is also covering how to prepare for wildfire season with a 30-minute special Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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