New report calls attention to lingering health problems of California wildfires

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- A new report by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting is calling attention to the lingering health problems of major wildfires in California.

When the Camp Fire erupted, the thick smoke spread across 200 miles, including the Bay Area. But, did you wonder about long-term effects?

"We had the worst air in the world and we wanted to know if this would be a problem right now or one for months and years after the fact," said investigative Reporter Aaron Glantz from Reveal News.

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He published the beginning of an answer Wednesday. It's not encouraging. "The fires are contained, the smoke is gone, and people are still going to the emergency room."

To determine impact from the Camp Fire, Glantz studied nine North Bay hospitals following last year's Tubb's fire.

They show that three months later, emergency rooms reported an average sustained a 20-percent increase in both respiratory problems and cardiac issues. If this is what we saw then, could we expect the same, again, after the Camp Fire?

"I mean we are talking about asthma, difficulty breathing talking about attacks, strokes," said Glantz.

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"I think we're still seeking to understand what the long-term impacts of that are. I won't say there isn't anything to be worried about," said Dr.Chad Krillich of Santa Rosa General Hospital.

With the smoke cleared, they're experiencing a normal November. However, he and others wonder about the long-term effects of that smoke, and structure related toxins it may have contained," Dr. Chad Krillich from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital said.

"This is cumulative," said Glantz. There is a lot we don't know about what these fires will do to our health."

It is also worth mentioning that this was a statistical study, not a medical one. There are other factors, among them, that three months after the Tubbs Fire, cold and flu season began.

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County here.
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