In a study to assess the economic impact of air quality changes arising from forest fires, human health risks were found to be second only to timber losses in terms of dollars and cents.
In the study published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, researchers from University of Alberta in Edmonton found the increases in human health risks were "substantial" in economic terms.
The study estimates the effects in terms of health risk to be between $9 million and $12 million, with 95 percent of the impact related to increases in mortality risk, restricted activity days, lost wages, and acute respiratory symptoms.
Using satellite imagery and monitoring stations, the researchers studied the effect of 2001 fire in Chisholm, Alberta, and the contributions of the fire to concentrations of particulate matter in the air. The researchers found the particulate matter to be well above the air quality guidelines for Canada.