It has recently come to light that the smoke caused by the devastating bushfires in Australia may have killed more people than the fire itself. According to reports, a new study claims that while the bushfires may have killed more than 400 people, the smoke they caused may have killed 10 times the number of people that the fire did.
As per reports, the study was published in the Medical Journal of Australia and according to Chris Migliaccio, who studies the long-term effects of wildfire smoke at the University of Montana in Missoula, the health impacts of the smoke caused by the bushfires is ‘alarming’. According to lead author Fay Johnston, an epidemiologist at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, 80 per cent of Australia’s population of 25 million people were blanketed by smoke due to the bushfires.
As per reports, Sydney experienced an unprecedented 81 days of poor and hazardous weather in 2019 and that is more than the total of the last decade combined. According to the study, the researchers modelled their research on the likely medical consequences the pollution could have on the population.
In order to understand the burden of smoke exposure on the Australian population, the researchers looked at the existing data on death rates and also looked at hospital admissions. Then they modelled how the known levels and extent of smoke exposure across the southeast, during the height of the crisis from October 1 to 10 February, would have affected these.
According to their findings, there were over 400 premature deaths and over 3,000 extra hospitalisations with cardiorespiratory problems and 1,305 additional attendances for asthma attacks during the period that was studied. Many of the deaths and hospitalizations are likely to have been older patients with heart disease or lung problems, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema.