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Article

Disproportionate Impacts of Wildfires among Elderly and Low-Income Communities in California from 2000–2020

1
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Program in Public Health, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
2
Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 3921; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083921
Received: 13 March 2021 / Revised: 3 April 2021 / Accepted: 4 April 2021 / Published: 8 April 2021
Wildfires can be detrimental to urban and rural communities, causing impacts in the form of psychological stress, direct physical injury, and smoke-related morbidity and mortality. This study examined the area burned by wildfires over the entire state of California from the years 2000 to 2020 in order to quantify and identify whether burned area and fire frequency differed across Census tracts according to socioeconomic indicators over time. Wildfire data were obtained from the California Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) and National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), while demographic data were obtained from the American Community Survey. Results showed a doubling in the number of Census tracts that experienced major wildfires and a near doubling in the number of people residing in wildfire-impacted Census tracts, mostly due to an over 23,000 acre/year increase in the area burned by wildfires over the last two decades. Census tracts with a higher fire frequency and burned area had lower proportions of minority groups on average. However, when considering Native American populations, a greater proportion resided in highly impacted Census tracts. Such Census tracts also had higher proportions of older residents. In general, high-impact Census tracts tended to have higher proportions of low-income residents and lower proportions of high-income residents, as well as lower median household incomes and home values. These findings are important to policymakers and state agencies as it relates to environmental justice and the allocation of resources before, during, and after wildfires in the state of California. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfire; environmental justice; climate change wildfire; environmental justice; climate change
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MDPI and ACS Style

Masri, S.; Scaduto, E.; Jin, Y.; Wu, J. Disproportionate Impacts of Wildfires among Elderly and Low-Income Communities in California from 2000–2020. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 3921. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083921

AMA Style

Masri S, Scaduto E, Jin Y, Wu J. Disproportionate Impacts of Wildfires among Elderly and Low-Income Communities in California from 2000–2020. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(8):3921. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083921

Chicago/Turabian Style

Masri, Shahir; Scaduto, Erica; Jin, Yufang; Wu, Jun. 2021. "Disproportionate Impacts of Wildfires among Elderly and Low-Income Communities in California from 2000–2020" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, no. 8: 3921. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18083921

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