Wildfire rise from the ashes

Wildfire Research in California

Wildfires & health surveys: How to participate

Current Ongoing UC Davis Wildfire Research:

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?).  

In collecting all of this data, EHSC 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 

To participate in this research, visit the study page here

Pregnancy Wildfire Research

Very little is known about the effects of wildfires on pregnancy. Researchers from the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center conducted the Bio-Specimen and Fire Effects (B-SAFE) Study to learn how recent wildfires and smoke are affecting pregnant women and their babies. Northern California women who were pregnant during the 2018 Camp Fire participated in the Bio-specimen and Fire Effects Study (B-SAFE). While this survey is no longer recruiting, learn more about it here

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.