Smoke & Air Quality
Smoke & Populations
This Perspective highlights the lingering consequences of nuclear disasters by examining the risks posed by wildfires that rerelease radioactive fallout originally deposited into the environment by accidents at nuclear power plants or testing of nuclear weapons. Such wildfires produce uncontainable, airborne, and hazardous smoke, which potentially carries radioactive material, thus becoming the specter of the original disaster. As wildfires occur more frequently with climate change and land use changes, nuclear wildfires present a pressing yet little discussed problem among wildfire management and fire scholars. The problem requires urgent attention due to the risks it poses to the health and wellbeing of wildland firefighters, land stewards, and smoke-impacted communities. This Perspective explains the problem, outlines future research directions, suggests potential solutions, and underlines the broader benefits of mitigating the risks.