Wildfire air pollution and dermatitis could be linked

The rate of clinical visits for atopic dermatitis increases among adults exposed to short-term spikes in atmospheric toxicity. 

A new study, the findings of which have been published by JAMA Network Open, has identified a correlation between air pollution from wildfires and dermatitis. 

person holding amber glass bottle

A cross-sectional analysis was carried out at an academic medical centre in San Francisco, California, between October 2018 and February 2019 – at which point major blazes led to a nine-fold increase in weekly mean particulate matter concentrations in the area, peaking between 8th and 21st November. 

Observations were also conducted between October 2015 and February 2016 under controlled conditions, with no fires burning. The resulting data was then stratified by age, 18-64 years and 65 years and over, and analysed using Poisson regression, with statistical modelling produced and adjusting for humidity, temperature, public holidays, year, and patient volume. 

‘The skin of older adults has a greater vulnerability to air pollution, with rapid outcomes after short-term exposure to air pollution,’ the researchers said in their conclusion. ‘The increased association of risk for pollution-induced skin exacerbations with older age may be due to age-related molecular processes affecting skin barrier function.’

Read the full report here.

Since the study was conducted, California has experienced catastrophic wildfires year-on-year, most recently during late-summer when multiple blazes ravaged the State. In Spring, research was published showing bush and forest fires in the US Pacific Northwest region had become so severe smoke was impacting air pollution levels across the entire North American continent

Image: Christin Hume


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