The first study to estimate health effects from Australia’s extreme fires suggests that several thousand extra people were admitted to hospital.
Unprecedented smoke‐related health burden associated with the 2019–20 bushfires in eastern AustraliaWeather conditions conducive to extreme bushfires are becoming more frequent as a consequence of climate change.1 Such fires have substantial social, ecological, and economic effects, including the effects on public health associated with smoke, such as premature mortality and exacerbation of cardio‐respiratory conditions.2, 3 During the final quarter of 2019 and the first of 2020, bushfires burned in many forested regions of Australia, and smoke affected large numbers of people in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. The scale and duration of these bushfires was unprecedented in Australia. We undertook a preliminary evaluation of the health burden attributable to air pollution generated by bushfires during this period.
But researchers say the result is conservative, and that weather conditions that make fires more likely will continue to worsen.