Two forces of nature are colliding in the western United States, and wildland firefighters are caught in the middle.
Emerging research suggests that the smoke firefighters breathe on the front lines of wildfires is putting them at greater risk from the new coronavirus, with potentially lethal effects.
At the same time, firefighting conditions make precautions such as social distancing and hand-washing difficult, increasing the chance that, once the virus enters a fire camp, it could quickly spread.
As an environmental toxicologist, I have spent the last decade expanding our understanding of how wood smoke exposure impacts human health. Much of my current research is focused on protecting the long-term health of wildland firefighters and the communities they serve.
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Montrose, Luke. (2020). "Smoke from Wildfires Can Worsen COVID-19 Risk, Putting Firefighters in Even More Danger". The Conversation, .