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The Impacts of Prescribed Fire on PM2.5 Air Quality and Human Health: Application to Asthma-Related Emergency Room Visits in Georgia, USA

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2312; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132312
Received: 20 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 26 June 2019 / Published: 29 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Health Predictions)
Short-term exposure to fire smoke, especially particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5), is associated with adverse health effects. In order to quantify the impact of prescribed burning on human health, a general health impact function was used with exposure fields of PM2.5 from prescribed burning in Georgia, USA, during the burn seasons of 2015 to 2018, generated using a data fusion method. A method was developed to identify the days and areas when and where the prescribed burning had a major impact on local air quality to explore the relationship between prescribed burning and acute health effects. The results showed strong spatial and temporal variations in prescribed burning impacts. April 2018 exhibited a larger estimated daily health impact with more burned areas compared to Aprils in previous years, likely due to an extended burn season resulting from the need to burn more areas in Georgia. There were an estimated 145 emergency room (ER) visits in Georgia for asthma due to prescribed burning impacts in 2015 during the burn season, and this number increased by about 18% in 2018. Although southwestern, central, and east-central Georgia had large fire impacts on air quality, the absolute number of estimated ER asthma visits resulting from burn impacts was small in these regions compared to metropolitan areas where the population density is higher. Metro-Atlanta had the largest estimated prescribed burn-related asthma ER visits in Georgia, with an average of about 66 during the reporting years. View Full-Text
Keywords: prescribed fire; burn activity; air quality modeling; CMAQ; decoupled direct method; respiratory effects prescribed fire; burn activity; air quality modeling; CMAQ; decoupled direct method; respiratory effects
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Huang, R.; Hu, Y.; Russell, A.G.; Mulholland, J.A.; Odman, M.T. The Impacts of Prescribed Fire on PM2.5 Air Quality and Human Health: Application to Asthma-Related Emergency Room Visits in Georgia, USA. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2312.

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