Wildfire rise from the ashes

Wildfires & health surveys: How to participate

There are different ways you can participate in California wildfire research at UC Davis:

Take only one survey. Pick the survey that works for you and fits the research requirements best. If you have questions, please email us at  hs-wildfireproject@ucdavis.edu. Thank you!

We know what natural wildfire smoke is composed of, but we have no idea what will be in urban wildfire smoke. We expect it to be very different. — Keith Bein, UC Davis Air Quality Research Center

Researchers at the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) are working with communities across California to study the physical and emotional impacts wildfires have had on survivors over the past several years. Research is ongoing and will incorporate new wildfires as they erupt.

Wildfires in California since 2017 have been historic and mark a turning point for the state. We're now seeing large, rapidly spreading wildfires in urban areas, which scientists believe could have an impact on the health of people differently than “natural” wildfires that burn trees, grass and other plants

Urban Wildfire Research

EHSC is conducting several studies focused on the health impacts of this new breed of wildfire. Scientists are collecting and studying samples of air and ash from affected areas, and also gathering information statewide about residents’ experiences during and in the immediate aftermath of fires through online and door-to-door surveys.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Director of EHSC and Professor of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis, is leading a large, epidemiological research project called “Wildfires and Health: Assessing the Toll in Northwest California” (WHAT-Now-CA?). Scientists are also enrolling women in the Bio-Specimen and Fire Affects Study (B-SAFE) to better understand the health impacts on pregnant women and children. 

In collecting all of this data, EHSC and its scientists hope to accomplish several things:

  • Understand how people are affected by exposure to smoke and combustion of chemicals in urban wildfires
  • Protect the public’s health as people recover from wildfires
  • Prevent health problems related to wildfires 

WHAT-Now-CA? and B-SAFE receive funding from the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, which is sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Wildfire Data Map

Our survey is ongoing however we've been analyzing the data we've collected so far and are beginning to publicly disseminate what we've learned from survivors. One thing we're trying to do is understand what it was that survivors needed most but didn't have during and after the wildfire. With that in mind, we created this interactive wildfire map to allow public access to this information for the first time.

Documentary: Waking Up to Wildfires

Our Emmy-nominated film on the aftermath of the 2017 North Bay wildfires tells the stories of survivors, firefighters, public health officials, community groups—and the scientists who are trying to make sense of it all as people struggle to recover and new fires erupt.

The UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center produced Waking Up to Wildfires with a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to help shed light on the plight of communities after these types of disasters. It's the first film to capture the impact that climate change and wildfires are having on California communities.