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

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

A plume of wildfire smoke behind the center of a small town showing brick buildings and cars.

6 ways communities can prepare for wildfire season

As smoke season begins in Washington, a new report outlines the best ways to communicate health and safety risks

A woman wearing a headset stands at a listening station next to a tall portrait of a doctor, while two girls next to her look at a second tall portrait of a woman.

Telling the story of wildfire smoke risks

New art installation in Washington features trusted community members sharing how wildfire smoke affects their health—and how they cope

The Seattle skyline on a foggy or smokey day with the freeway leading into it

At every age, cleaner air means better health

Tiny pollution particles can cause major health problems. Our research shows how to minimize your risk.

A forest fire on a ridge against a darkened sky next to a river with a bridge crossing.

Keeping forests and people healthy

Consensus approach proposed to protect human health from intentional and wild forest fires

Woman in hijab and safety glasses pours tan-colored liquid from a large bucket into a large beaker.

Building community resilience to climate change

DEOHS grad student Daaniya Iyaz studies how wildfire smoke impacts kids’ health


In the news

For the Methow Valley, wildfire smoke has created a 'fifth' season
July 20, 2022 | KUOW | Featured: Joel D. Kaufman, Nicole Errett View

Researchers find common ground in forest and fire management
June 6, 2022 | East Oregonian | Featured: Postdoctoral researcher Savannah D'Evelyn View

As rules are crafted, farmworkers report limited access to breaks, shade on hot days
October 21, 2021 | Salem Statesman-Journal | Featured: Edward Kasner View

Hospitals confront climate change as patients sick from floods and fires crowd ERs
October 1, 2021 | Kaiser Health News | Featured: Jeremy J Hess View

Wildfire smoke claims more than 33,000 lives each year, new study finds
September 9, 2021 | Grist | Featured: Joel D. Kaufman View