**Please note: The timing of this session is subject to change***
Canadian wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense as the global climate changes. Smoke from these fires causes episodes
of the worst air quality that most Canadian populations will ever experience, even those living far from the actual fires.
Short-term exposure to wildfire smoke has been associated with a wide range of acute health outcomes, from increased reporting
of transient symptoms through to increased risk of premature mortality. People with chronic respiratory conditions are most
susceptible, but the elderly, pregnant women, young children, and those with underlying disease are also at risk. Much less is
known about longer exposures to wildfire smoke, which is a critical evidence gap given the increasing duration of wildfire
seasons in Canada. During the summer of 2017, British Columbia was in a state of emergency for 70 days. Some communities were
under smoke for the entire period, and the densely populated greater Vancouver area was under air quality advisory for a
record-setting 19 days. Public health agencies need high quality smoke forecasts and effective interventions to mitigate the
acute and potentially chronic effects of these wildfire smoke exposures.
By the end of this session, participants will be able to:
1. Describe the range of acute health outcomes associated with short-term exposure to wildfire smoke
2. Identify the populations most susceptible to these outcomes
3. Identify the most effective community - and individual-level interventions for health protection
Presenter: Dr. Sarah Henderson
Dr. Sarah Henderson is an environmental engineer and an environmental epidemiologist. As the Senior Environmental Health
Scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) she leads a program of applied research and surveillance in support of
evidence-based policy for the province. Dr. Henderson has expertise in a wide range of environmental health topics, including
extreme weather, radon gas, food safety, water quality, and air pollution from multiple sources. She has been studying wildfire
fire smoke in British Columbia and around the world for more than 15 years
The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.
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