Wildland Fires: Causes, Health Concerns and How We Take Action

Here at The Conscious Merchant, our hearts are broken as we've watched wildfires ravage the West Coast in 2020. Our home state Colorado has even experienced some of the largest fires in history. We thought it was time we took a little look into wildland fires, the stats, the health concerns and explore some ideas on taking action.

What Are Some Facts?

According to the USDA, "fire seasons are now 78 days longer than in the 1970s" and Federation of American Scientists reports that as of October 1, 2020, over 44,000 wildfires had burned nearly 7.7 million acres. This number grew larger throughout the month of October, especially in Colorado with some of the largest fires in states' histories igniting. 

Researchers at The University of Colorado recently published a study on wildland-urban interface (WUI) fires. WUI are areas where homes and communities meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland vegetation. Lead author, Mietkiewicz and colleagues, found that between 1992 and 2015, 97% of WUI fires were caused by humans. They noted that, "The WUI has expanded in the U.S. by a third between 1990 and 2010 and is projected to double by 2030." Additionally, the wildfire smoke can have profound health consequences, particularly vulnerable populations with respiratory diseases and chronic heart disease. 

This Stanford Q&A provided additional thoughts on wildfires, inflammation and what we know about the potential effects on COVID-19 infections.

What Can We Do? 

With human cause being the number one reason for these WUIs, it's important that we educate ourselves on what the causes may be and how we ensure that we are being conscious decisions to protect our wildlands.

We need to be a part of the learning process by following and supporting education on fire prevention and reforestation.

A few organizations to check out include:

National Interagency Fire Center

Smokeybear.com

Yales, Global Forest Atlas

Institute for Environmental Solutions

60 Billion Trees: The World Resource Institute

For our personal health, look limiting your outdoor air exposure, especially on high particulate days. The weather stations will give you this information.

Also, be mindful of our indoor air!

If you're in a wildfire smoke area, replace your furnace filter with one rated for that filters .3- 1.0um (MERV 13 or higher). An example is FILTRETE 1900. Recirculate the air in your heating and cooling system to clean air. Note: these filters may be more taxing on your system, so you can switch back to lower after fires clear if you choose. 

Use air purifiers in your home. Depending on your price point and the square footage that you're looking to cover, there are a number of excellent options on the market. We will share our favorite picks later this week! 

Our Give Back

TCM is committed to supporting regrowth and healing the Earth. This November are partnering with One Tree Planted and for every $25 spent we will be donating a tree.

Moving forward, our "pass on a bag" donations will also be going to reforestation research. 

Stop in a store, drop us a message or give us a call to keep the conversation and efforts going!