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Wildfire Smoke Poses Greatest Risk to Low-Income Residents, People of Color, Experts Say

With fires racing across Northern California, the area is experiencing some of the worst air quality in years. Experts say low-income communities of color are at the greatest risk for health problems from air quality, including asthma. Anne Kelsey Lamb, director of PHI’s Regional Asthma Management and Prevention comments on the increased risk of asthma due to wildfire smoke.

  • Capital Public Radio
Fire burns on a hillside in Solano County on August 19, 2020.

With fires racing across Northern California, the area is experiencing some of the worst air quality in years. Experts say low-income communities of color are at the greatest risk for health problems from air quality, including asthma.

“The notion of race, poverty and education — these are what we’ve come to understand as social determinants of health. Given all of that, when you’re poor, low-income or you already have pre-existing conditions, it makes you even more susceptible and more vulnerable to poor air quality,” said Kaying Hang, senior program officer at the Sierra Health Foundation, a philanthropy organization in Sacramento that focuses on improving health equity.

Low income African-Americans have been found to have disproportionately high rates of asthma and worse outcomes from asthma attacks as a result of where they live and their ability to access health care.

And it’s “well-established that certain components of air pollution not only make asthma worse, but can actually lead to the onset of asthma in otherwise healthy people,” said Anne Kelsey Lamb, director of Regional Asthma Management and Prevention.

She also noted that lower-income residents are more susceptible to wildfire smoke “because they have greater exposure due to things like substandard housing or being in service jobs that require them to be outside.”

Click below to read the full story from Capital Public Radio.

Originally published by Capital Public Radio


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