USA — The Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) has released their plan for wildland fire smoke research. The 58-page document outlines their priorities for funding smoke research through 2015.
Much of the emphasis appears to be directed at how to deal with the publics perception and tolerance of smoke. Smoke is becoming an increasingly sensitive subject to the population due to larger wildfires burning for longer periods of time, concern about the effects of wildfire smoke on global warming, and prescribed fires continuing to be an important tool for land managers.
One aspect of wildfire smoke that Wildfire Today has written about frequently is the short and long term effects of smoke on the health of firefighters. On April 23, 2010 we covered the study that NIOSH and the U.S. Fire Administration are conducting about cancer among structural firefighters. We called out the land management agencies and the firefighting associations:
There needs to be a concerted effort to conduct a similar study on wildland firefighters. It should be led by a physician/epidemiologist and should evaluate the long term health and occurrence of cancer and other diseases among wildland firefighters. There is a lot of grant money out there and it should be possible to get some of it pointed towards this overlooked niche of firefighting.
The JFSP five-year plan does mention research on the effects of smoke on wildland firefighters, but at times it seems like an afterthought. For example, the objective for one of four research themes, Smoke and Populations, sometimes includes the impact of smoke on populations (page 26), and in other places it is described as impact of smoke on populations and fire fighters (page 21).
However, the plan does list some specific Smoke Science Foci that may benefit firefighters:
* 2011: (SSP T3 -2): Epidemiological research/literature review to determine human health risk from high PM loadings. * 2011 (SSP T3-4): Fire fighter smoke health hazards: trends in health and exposure. * 2012 (SSP T3-5): Review of epidemiological research to determine human health risk from high PM, high ozone and high aromatic hydrocarbon loadings with a focus on synergisms between pollutants.
We hope that the foci turns into actual research.