Climate Change, Landscape Fires, and Human Health: A Global Perspective

Annu Rev Public Health. 2024 May;45(1):295-314. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-060222-034131. Epub 2024 Apr 3.

Abstract

Landscape fires are an integral component of the Earth system and a feature of prehistoric, subsistence, and industrial economies. Specific spatiotemporal patterns of landscape fire occur in different locations around the world, shaped by the interactions between environmental and human drivers of fire activity. Seven distinct types of landscape fire emerge from these interactions: remote area fires, wildfire disasters, savanna fires, Indigenous burning, prescribed burning, agricultural burning, and deforestation fires. All can have substantial impacts on human health and well-being directly and indirectly through (a) exposure to heat flux (e.g., injuries and destructive impacts), (b) emissions (e.g., smoke-related health impacts), and (c) altered ecosystem functioning (e.g., biodiversity, amenity, water quality, and climate impacts). Minimizing the adverse effects of landscape fires on population health requires understanding how human and environmental influences on fire impacts can be modified through interventions targeted at individual, community, and regional levels.

Keywords: adaptation; air pollution; climate change; population health; smoke; wildfire.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem
  • Fires*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Wildfires*