Short-Term Acute Exposure to Wildfire Smoke and Lung Function among Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Officers


The increasing incidence of extreme wildfire is becoming a concern for public health. Although long-term exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with respiratory illnesses, reports on the association between short-term occupational exposure to wildfire smoke and lung function remain scarce. In this cross-sectional study, we analyzed data from 218 Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers (mean age: 38 ± 9 years) deployed at the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016. Individual exposure to air pollutants was calculated by integrating the duration of exposure with the air quality parameters obtained from the nearest air quality monitoring station during the phase of deployment. Lung function was measured using spirometry and body plethysmography. Association between exposure and lung function was examined using principal component linear regression analysis, adjusting for potential confounders. In our findings, the participants were predominantly male (71%). Mean forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), and residual volume (RV) were 76.5 ± 5.9 and 80.1 ± 19.5 (% predicted). A marginal association was observed between air pollution and higher RV [β: 1.55; 95% CI: -0.28 to 3.37 per interquartile change of air pollution index], but not with other lung function indices. The association between air pollution index and RV was significantly higher in participants who were screened within the first three months of deployment (2.80; 0.91 to 4.70) than those screened later (-0.28; -2.58 to 2.03), indicating a stronger effect of air pollution on peripheral airways. Acute short-term exposure to wildfire-associated air pollutants may impose subtle but clinically important deleterious respiratory effects, particularly in the peripheral airways.

Authors: Subhabrata Moitra, Ali Farshchi Tabrizi, Dina Fathy, Samineh Kamravaei, Noushin Miandashti, Linda Henderson, Fadi Khadour, Muhammad T Naseem, Nicola Murgia, Lyle Melenka, Paige Lacy
; Full Source: International journal of environmental research and public health 2021 Nov 10;18(22):11787. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182211787.