The health effects of wildfire smoke

Worker approaches a blazing wildfire in a forest.

DEOHS wildfire experts are investigating how smoke affects our health and strategies to reduce its impacts


DEOHS wildfire smoke experts were featured in a recent webinar hosted by the UW School of Public Health

Wildfires are natural and inevitable in our forestlands. Climate change is making our wildfire seasons longer, hotter and more dangerous.

The UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS) has a long history of leading research into the impacts of wildfires on human health.

Through our research and outreach activities, DEOHS faculty and students are building our understanding of how wildfire smoke can damage our health and the best ways to protect people and communities from harm.

Learn about our impact, research and expertise below.

Our impact

Photo of downtown Seattle, I-5 and surrounding neighborhoods on a smoky day.

Our most-read stories of 2022 

Global recognition, new faculty and cutting-edge research: counting down our top 10 blog posts of 2022

Three youth volunteers from Duwamish Valley Youth Corps smile wearing yellow safety vests, two giving a thumbs up, in a Duwamish Valley neighborhood in Seattle.

Empowering youth to seek climate solutions in their communities

DEOHS and Duwamish River Community Coalition join new program engaging Latino and Indigenous youth in community climate impacts

Collage of two images: on left, wildfire smoke and fire in a Washington forest; on right, five farmworkers harvest lettuce in the heat under a canopy with hats and scarves.

Wildfire smoke and extreme heat projects win population health awards

DEOHS researchers and partners tackle health impacts of smoke and heat with new grants from UW Population Health Initiative

A table of seven farmworkers and a child sit in the foreground having a discussion, with other tables of people in the background.

Supporting farmworker families through smoke season

Our PNASH Center and Wenatchee CAFÉ host community events to understand the concerns of farmworker parents

Claire Schollaert sits on a bench on the UW campus.

Protecting communities while reducing wildfire risk

DEOHS PhD student wins Castner Award to support air quality research on prescribed burns

A smoke plume rises from a wildfire on a hillside near a group of houses.

Planning for disaster

Disaster researchers gather at the University of Washington this week to consider how to integrate their research into future disaster response


In the news

What the Air Quality Index doesn't tell us about smoke dangers
November 14, 2022 | Crosscut | Featured: Catherine Karr, Coralynn Sack, Tania M Busch Isaksen View

Here's what experts say are the impacts of exposure to unhealthy air quality
October 19, 2022 | KING-5 | Featured: Coralynn Sack View

Brace for high fire danger, smoke, unhealthy air in Seattle area this weekend as October heat drags on
October 15, 2022 | Seattle Times | Featured: Catherine Karr View

Relief from smoky conditions expected soon, UW doctor talks preventative measures
October 12, 2022 | UW Daily | Featured: Coralynn Sack View

Black saliva, sore throat, shortness of breath: How dangerous is wildfire season for US farmworkers?
October 10, 2022 | USA Today | Featured: Elena Austin View