New UCLA Study Reveals Staggering Death Toll from Wildfire Smoke in California

A groundbreaking study by UCLA researchers, published in the journal Science Advances, has uncovered a shocking reality: thousands more Californians than previously estimated are dying each year due to the health impacts of wildfire smoke. The research found that inhaling fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from wildland fires resulted in 52,500 to 55,700 deaths between 2008 and 2018, with an associated economic impact of $432 billion to $456 billion.

Lead author and UCLA researcher Rachel Connolly attributes the worsening wildfires across California to climate change, forest mismanagement, and the expansion of the wildland-urban interface. She emphasizes that the chronic, long-term smoke exposure resulting from these fires is contributing to long-term disease formation and increased health impacts.

The study’s findings suggest that particulate matter from wildfire smoke is up to 10 times more harmful to human health than particulate matter from other pollution sources. Connolly stresses the urgent need for society to invest in forest management and climate mitigation efforts to mitigate these devastating health consequences.

The researchers warn that the problem extends beyond California, as massive fires in other regions, such as the recent Canadian fires, can produce smoke that affects populations far from the fire-prone areas. As climate change continues to fuel more intense and frequent wildfires, the health burdens associated with wildfire smoke exposure are expected to grow.

The study’s senior author, UCLA environmental health expert Michael Jerrett, calls for immediate action to address this public health crisis. The findings underscore the critical importance of developing comprehensive strategies to mitigate the risks posed by wildfire smoke and protect vulnerable populations from its devastating health impacts.



  1. The Native American

    And this is why I still wear masks during fire season. Even if you can’t see particles or smoke, you’re much better off indoors with everything shut.

    The same reason why airplanes cannot fly through volcanic ash (pyroclastic ash flow).

    Thanks for providing an informative peer-reviewed article!

  2. William Simpson II
    Shared with Public

    I can still recall my articles and emails to elected Officials back in 2018-19, desperately warning about the deadly toxicity of wildfire and prescribed fire smoke… few listened and less paid any heed, INCLUDING CA Congressman Doug LaMalfa!
    Both LaMalfa and aid (Erin Ryan) were told about the smoke toxins from the 2018 Klamathon Fire that killed my wife Laura Simpson, even with over $1-million in advanced diagnostic care at OHSU in Portland. They ignored the data presented.
    And WORSE YET, they continue to stonewall and spread misinformation about the benefits of RxFire, while condemning cost effective, proven, wild horse fire grazing.
    With elected officials like this who needs enemies? True Story and I have the emails off Gov. servers to prove it!
    NOW? AFTER UCLA Comes Out Saying it’s true, Will any of the elected Officials LISTEN and ACT for a change?

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