While wildfire season never fully ends in the West, it’s ramping up now with the onset of hotter, drier weather.

With every fire, UC Davis scientists, veterinarians, physicians and teachers are investigating the trauma. (Meet many of them in our wildfire, smoke and air quality experts list.)

Five studies

In “Wildfire and Health,” writers Andy Fell and Trina Wood feature recent and ongoing research at UC Davis related to wildfires and its health effects on people and animals. This includes:

  • An online survey assessing the mental and physical health toll of people experiencing wildfires in Northwest California.
  • An ongoing study of women who were pregnant during recent wildfires.
  • An ongoing study of rhesus macaque monkeys that were exposed to smoke in summer 2008, when smoke pollution was similar to that seen in Davis, California in 2018.
  • A study examining the chemical components in ash from wildfires that involve not just forests, but hundreds of houses – and the electronics, furniture, cleaning products, and various items that reside within them.
  • The story also describes the heroic efforts of the Veterinary Emergency Response Team, or VERT. As the Camp Fire raged, VERT team members evaluated hundreds of animals for injuries. Nearly 70 animals – from cats and dogs to a tortoise and bobcat, were brought to UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine for treatment during that fire.

Climate, wildfire and California

Also, in a June 4 talk to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, UC Davis John Muir Institute Director Benjamin Houlton provided an overview of climate change in California and its impact on wildfire risk, both in the past and what it may mean for the future.


“Climate change, which was knocking on our door for a while in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, has fully entered our living rooms, and these impacts manifest themselves oftentimes in extremes,” Houlton said.

Learn more by watching the YouTube series “Waking Up To Wildfires.”

Kat Kerlin is an environmental science writer and media relations specialist at UC Davis. She’s the editor of the Science & Climate website and its “What Can I Do About Climate Change?” blog. @UCDavis_Kerlin

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