Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-38
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-38

  12 Feb 2021

12 Feb 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Impact of large wildfires on PM10 levels and human mortality in Portugal

Patricia Tarín-Carrasco1, Sofia Augusto2,3, Laura Palacios-Peña1,4, Nuno Ratola5, and Pedro Jiménez-Guerrero1,6 Patricia Tarín-Carrasco et al.
  • 1Physics of the Earth, Regional Campus of International Excellence (CEIR) “Campus Mare Nostrum", University of Murcia, Spain
  • 2EPIUnit - Instituto de Saúde Pública, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  • 3Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciencias, Universidade de Lisboa (CE3C-FC-ULisboa), Lisboa, Portugal
  • 4Dept. of Meteorology, Meteored, Almendricos, Spain
  • 54. LEPABE-Laboratory for Process Engineering, Environment, Biotechnology and Energy, Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
  • 6Biomedical Research Institute of Murcia (IMIB-Arrixaca), Spain

Abstract. Uncontrolled wildfires have a substantial impact on the environment, the economy and local populations. According to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), between the years 2000 and 2013 wildfires burnt about 170,000–740,000 ha of land annually on the south of Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and France). Although most southern European countries have been impacted by wildfires in the last decades, Portugal was the most affected, having the highest percentage of burned area comparing to its whole territory. For this reason, it deserves a closer attention. However, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the impacts of the wildfire-related pollutants on the mortality of the population. All wildfires occurring during the fire seasons (June-July-August-September) from 2001 and 2016 were identified and those with a burned area above 1000 ha were considered for the study. To assess the spatial impact of the wildfires, these were correlated with PM10 concentrations measured at nearby background air quality monitoring stations, provided by the Portuguese Environment Agency (APA). Associations between PM10 and all-cause (excluding injuries, poisoning and external causes) and cause-specific mortality (circulatory and respiratory), provided by Statistics Portugal, were studied for the affected populations, using Poisson regression models. During the studied period (2001–2016), more than 2 million ha of forest were burned in mainland Portugal and the 48 % of wildfires occurred were large fires. A significant correlation between burned area and PM10 have been found in some NUTS III (regions) on Portugal, as well as a significant correlation between burned area and mortality. North, centre and inland of Portugal are the most affected areas. The high temperatures and long episodes of drought expected on the future will increase the probabilities of extreme events and therefore, the occurrence of wildfires.

Patricia Tarín-Carrasco et al.

Status: open (until 26 Mar 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-38', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Mar 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-38', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Mar 2021 reply

Patricia Tarín-Carrasco et al.

Patricia Tarín-Carrasco et al.

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Short summary
Uncontrolled wildfires have a substantial impact on the environment and local populations. Although most southern European countries have been impacted by wildfires in the last decades, Portugal has the highest percentage of burned area comparing to its whole territory. Under this umbrella, associations between large fires, PM10 and all-cause and cause-specific mortality (circulatory and respiratory) have been explored using Poisson regression models for 2001–2016.
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