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The potential impact of bushfire smoke on brain health

Author(s): Laura A. Milton, Anthony R. White
Year Published: 2020

Smoke from bushfires (also known as wildfires or forest fires) has blanketed large regions of Australia during the southern hemisphere summer of 2019/2020, potentially endangering residents who breathe the polluted air. While such air pollution is known to cause respiratory irritation and damage, its effect on the brain is not well described. In this review, we aim to outline the potentially damaging effects of bushfire smoke on brain health. We also describe the composition of air pollution, including ambient particulate matter (PM) and bushfire PM, before covering the general health effects of each. The investigated entry routes for ambient PM and postulated entry routes for bushfire PM are discussed, along with epidemiological and experimental evidence of the effect of both PMs in the brain. It appears that bushfire PM may be more toxic than ambient PM, and that it may enter the brain through extrapulmonary or olfactory routes to cause inflammation and oxidative stress. Ultimately, this review highlights the desperate requirement of greater research into the effects of bushfire PM on brain health.

Citation: Milton, Laura A.; White, Anthony R. 2020. The potential impact of bushfire smoke on brain health. Neurochemistry International 139:104796. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2020.104796
Topic(s): Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Hot Topic(s):
NRFSN number: 21679
FRAMES RCS number: 61559
Record updated: Aug 6, 2020