K. Moeltnera, M.-K. Kimb, E. Zhu, W. Yangd

Journal of Environmental Economics and Management

Published date November 1, 2013

Wildfire smoke and health impacts: A closer look at fire attributes and their marginal effects

  • Examines the impact of basic fire attributes, such as distance and fuel type, on air quality and health outcomes
  • Uses detailed information on 24 large-scale wildfires that sent smoke plumes to the Reno/Sparks area of Northern Nevada over a 4-year period
  • Relates the daily acreage burned by these fires to daily data on air pollutants and local hospital admissions
  • Computes the per-acre health cost of wildfires of different attributes using information on medical expenses
  • Finds that patient counts can be causally linked to fires as far as 200–300 miles from the impact area
  • Finds that, as expected, the marginal impact per acre burned generally diminishes with distance and for fires with lighter fuel loads
  • Results highlight the importance of allowing for temporal lags between fire occurrence and pollutant levels